Men's Water Polo Ready to Open 2012 Season at Inland Empire Tournament
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a long three weeks of grueling preseason practice, the No. 15 Santa Clara men's water polo team is set to officially kick-off the 2012 season this weekend at the Inland Empire Tournament in Redlands, Calif. The Broncos will play three conferences opponents: Chapman, Whittier and Redlands in addition to playing No. 5 UC Santa Barbara. While the Broncos will look to pickup wins in each of their first four games, head coach Keith Wilbur did emphasize the importance of improving each contest.
"It is early in the season, so we are looking to improve every weekend," said Wilbur. "We have a young team, so learning and gaining experience from every game is key. We would like to build on the good defensive effort from last weekend and we are going to look to create more scoring opportunities and also convert a higher percentage of those scoring opportunities this coming weekend."
The Broncos spent last weekend scrimmaging two top-10 teams in No. 3 California and No. 6 Pacific while hosting perennial junior college power West Valley on Saturday. Wilbur felt the team progressed nicely throughout the weekend.
"I thought we played very well defensively against Cal and UoP," said Wilbur. "They
are two very good programs and I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball on offense and limiting their counter attack opportunities. I also thought our goalies played very well throughout the weekend. Offensively, we need to improve on setting ourselves up for a shot before the ball gets there. We also need to drive more in the half court offense. We have good speed and quickness, and the more we learn to use that to our advantage the better."
Redshirt junior Theo Nasser is the lone returning starter on a young Bronco team. Nasser, however, led the Broncos with 41 goals while earning a team-high 53 ejections. Junior Tucker Carlson and redshirt sophomore Matt Kochalko are the only other returning players who started a game in 2012. Carlson paced Santa Clara with 24 goals while Kochalko chipped in 15.
Be sure to check back to SantaClaraBroncos.com for recaps of this weekends games.