Rough start to new division

BOYS WATERPOLO With the departure of eight seniors, the team looks toward new leadership.

Emily Kim, Feature Editor

The Diamond Bar High School boys water polo team is entering uncharted territory, suffering  two losses in their preseason and facing the loss of eight crucial seniors. Which means, the  team will have to work hard to surpass last year’s monumental season.

After reaching the CIF semifinals last season, the Brahmas are using what they have learned last year to improve both individually and as a team.

Despite losing nearly half of their team to graduation in May, coaches Alexander Matal and Kevin Hammond do not view it as hindering their progress for this season.

“Although we lost a lot of our varsity team last year, the new team that we have this year is definitely capable of going back to CIF,” senior captain Aaron Velarde said.

The team’s success in the past two years has allowed them to jump up to Division 4, when they were previously in Division 6, due to a reconstruction of CIF playoffs’ rules.

The coaching staff consider the returning players ready to compete for the team and that the overall program is still growing.

Senior Mark Parent said he believes that the loss of the strong seniors will be felt, such as former lead scorer Diego Hammond, who scored 30 percent of the team’s overall points last season, and former goalie Sebastian Houng, who saved 261 balls.

However, there are new members stepping up to fill the gaps. Including Velarde and senior captain Tyler Parquette, as well as junior goalie Raphael Mutec, leading the team’s defense.

“We are coming back strong. Our coaches are still pushing us to be better,” Parent said.

Last year, the boys ended with an overall record of 21-12 and losing 2-6 in league. In order to maintain their fitness, many of the boys participated in the summer water polo league.

Several Brahmas also played for clubs outside of school practice to continuously hone their skills year round, participating in high caliber tournaments such as Club Championship, the National Junior Olympics Qualification Tournament and Junior Olympics Championships.

Over the summer, the team participated in scrimmages against other teams and each other every week. The boys competed in tournaments over the weekends as often as possible.

Everyday, the athletes were either practicing or playing in games, depending on if they participated in a tournament or league match. The Brahmas played anywhere from 30 to 40 games over the seven weeks in the summer program. The Brahmas currently practice six days a week for up to four hours.         

The coaches hope that the team is well prepared and trained after their summer training and are ready to take on the new season. The returning players will be an asset to the team in leading the younger members who are not acclimated to the program.

To start the preseason, the team lost its first game against the Brea Olinda Wildcats 7-5. Despite being evenly matched for the first half of the game, the Wildcats began pulled ahead in the third quarter, scoring one more goal than the Brahmas. The Brahmas were unable to tie the Wildcats score in the final quarter.

The boys’ second game against Schurr High School was a bigger loss, 14-7.

“Although we have lots of talent on our team, it doesn’t work well unless we can work together better. We need more communication and leadership on our team,” Velarde said.