Men’s water polo looking to build toward new beginning

Max Perez, Staff Writer

Although the men’s water polo team ended its season last year with a playoff win, coach Joe Abing is completely focused on the potential of this season.

The team struggled with injuries late in the year but still finished strong, placing second in the South Coast Conference, and fourth in the SoCal Championship, while multiple players received season awards and honors.

Abing said, “We had an incredible year.”

Although he recognizes the success of last season he is ready to get started with this year stating,”I don’t live in the past, I live in the moment.”

Freshman goalie Matthew Contreras also feels the same adding,” I try to stay in the here and the now.”

This year’s team is made up of mostly new faces and new challenges, but Abing is not worried.

“So far I’m very pleased with the effort that everyone is making.” he said.

Contreras is one of those new faces and has felt the pressure of moving up to the next level, saying, “It is more intense than high school definitely, but thats what I like about it, it makes me rise to the challenge.”

As far as team chemistry, most of the players know each other from summer practices and few played together in high school and clubs.

Teamwork according to Contreras has been the main point coach has been getting across so far.

Second year driver Jeffrey Park was a starter on last year’s team and sees this year as an opportunity for not only himself but the other veterans to lead by example.

Adding, “Being the older guys we have to show the younger [men] what it means to be on this team.”

With so many players on this year’s team being new, coach Abing doesn’t see this team building on last years success, saying,”It’s not building from last year, every year you’re starting over.”

The team lost several key players last year including all-american Marlon Moreno.

“All the guys here are working hard. We’re trying to find out what our roles are gonna be for the team.”

One of those roles is the goalie position, which Contreras and Jason Curiel are looking to acquire.

Contreras said, “We’re not fighting for the spot, but we are competing for it.”

Both Park and Contreras agree that the chemistry of the team is good and is only going to get better as they continue to practice and mesh with one another, they also agree that the team trip to Maryland will just add to it.

The Falcon’s season begins with a road trip across the country to Maryland, where the team will play Navy University.

Abing was excited at the prospect of playing teams at the next level saying,”It’s a really special opportunity for them.”

Contreras agrees with his coach and believes that playing against next level competition will give him a sense of where he is at as a goalie.

The chance to play Navy University is an exciting experience to the players because according to Park they have developed somewhat of a rivalry with them.

Cerritos has never defeated Navy to which Park added, “We want to beat them this year for sure with this squad.”

Abing knows traveling across the country is thought to affect a team, but he doesn’t think it will affect the men.

“I think we can play anywhere and were gonna do some good things and we’re going to do some things that we need on improve on, but it’ll just be fun to be playing some teams that play water polo on the other side of the country.”

He also believes it is a great situation away from the pool, saying,”Its an opportunity for us to come together and have some bonding time as a team.”

First and second year players alike agree that winning the state championship is the number one priority as well as developing as a team.

As far as coach’s expectations, he has very simply accomplishments he want to see this team meet that include: reaching their full potential, working hard at every practice, getting along as teammates and making the most of each practice to improve as players and be student athletes.

“At the end of the season, we’ll look back and if we all worked super hard on those things then I’ll be a happy coach,” he said.