Men's Water Polo Concludes a Successful Campaign
The men's water polo team closed off the season with an upset win over No. 16 Air Force. Like many of the matches the Broncos faced this year, the game was in a dead heat down to the last few minutes of the game, when the Broncos ultimately defeated the Falcons 9-7. According to head Coach Steve Hanson, all aspects of their game finally came together and they were able to execute the game plan they set out to accomplish. For many of the players, this win made the season all worth while, as they finished with a record of 11-17. The team will continue to improve next year, but after sustaining the loss of seven influential seniors: Jeff Raegen, Jeff Kopacek, Brian Sprouse, Bryan Failing, Matt Reilly, Andrew Sikic and Matt Petrich.
"This group of seniors had tremendous character and were a pleasure to coach," Hanson stated.
As a team captain, Raegen led the team by example this past season. He provided an excellent bridge between the players and coach, which added to the positive communication on the team. He was also a strong force in the water ending the season with 23 goals and 18 assists.
Kopacek ended the season with a total of 74 steals, the highest on the team. He proved to be the strongest defensive player, willing to match-up against any opponent in the water. He also posed as a threat with his strong arm and his ability to shoot from anywhere.
One of the most passionate players on the team this season was Sprouse. Hanson describes Sprouse as having the biggest heart. He was not the biggest guy on the team, but he would not back down from any challenge.
Although Failing faced many injuries through his career, he never quit. He maintained a positive attitude all season, a characteristic that all coaches love to see in their players.
Reilly suffered from a knee injury over the summer, which prevented him from playing in the beginning part of the season. Nevertheless, his love for the game did not keep him away for long as he ended the year playing in 22-of-28 games. He was a very versatile player that Hanson felt comfortable playing anywhere.
Thought to be one of the most intelligent players on the team, Sikic had an excellent sense of the game and good vision in the water. He ended this season with seven goals and 22 assists.
The team goalie, Petrich, totaled 188 saves this season while playing in all 28 matches. He is one of the most improved players since he began his career here at Santa Clara in 1999 after transferring from Boston College.
Despite being forced to play their entire schedule on the road, as the Leavey Event Center was under construction, the team kept high spirits. At times the rigorous travel schedule could be exhausting, but the team was able to overcome the odds. They played hard all season never giving up. The aspect of their game that hurt them the most this season was their inconsistency. They struggled to have all parts of they game come together at the same time. Hanson hopes to improve upon this part of their game next season and eventually lead the team to the division championship.