Men's Water Polo Season Outlook
MALIBU, Calif. -- The Pepperdine men’s water polo team began looking ahead and gearing up for the 2007 season even before the 2006 season began.
Last season, the Waves redshirted their top four players to save a year of eligibility and to prepare for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
“The reason we redshirted four players last year is to hopefully win national championships the next two years,” head coach Jack Kocur said. “I took each player aside in a tournament in
Kocur takes over as the full-time head coach in 2007 after serving as interim coach in 2006. The roster-shortened Waves went 13-17 overall and 2-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, but still finished the season ranked #10 nationally. Terry Schroeder, who took a year off to work with the U.S. National Team, will continue on as the
With attacker Nick Corjon (
The Waves are ranked #6, both in conference and nationally, in the preseason, and the players and coaches have high hopes for this season.
“I’m very happy with where we are right now,” said Kocur, who is joined by second-year assistant coach William Rodriguez. “There aren’t many high expectations outside of our team for this year, so we can sneak up on them.
“Pepperdine has had a reputation of inconsistency, but a program that would sometimes put it together and win. Our goal this year is to prove that wrong and win it all. We want to go out there and win every game to prove we are consistent. Consistency is our motto this year.”
With fellow MPSF rivals USC and California ranked atop the preseason standings, the Waves are looking to avenge their losses last year, and will be better able to do so with the return of their four redshirt players, all juniors: attacker Grant Miller (La Verne, Calif./Damien HS), attacker Adam Hewko (Irvine, Calif./ Servite HS), attacker Matt Digges (Coronado, Calif./Coronado HS) and utility Matt MacDonell (Redwood City, Calif./Bellarmine HS).
Back in 2005, the quartet comprised four of the top five scorers on the team. Hewko and Miller scored 43 goals apiece, while Digges had 29 and MacDonell added 14.
“Our redshirts are very hungry to play because they haven’t played in a game for a year,” Kocur said. “When you redshirt, you get to know who you are and what you want more.”
This past summer two of Pepperdine’s players participated with U.S. National Teams. Hewko helped the full U.S. National Team qualify for the Olympics in 2008 in
Kocur is excited about his younger players, including a group of sophomores that now have some experience under their belts. In addition to JP MacDonell, they include utility Brett Auer (
“We had a great freshman class last year and have another amazing incoming class this year,” Kocur said. “We have the top two high school players coming in this year in Andrew Milcovich (
The depth and experience gives Pepperdine a different look in 2007.
“Our subs won’t lose a beat,” Kocur said. “It’s almost like having two ÂA’ squads. We have 12 excellent players and great team chemistry. This team reminds me of the 1997 championship team I played on. I haven’t seen this kind of attitude out of any one of the teams I have previously coached here.”
Kocur has great faith and respect for his other juniors, which include center back Dorian Beaney (
Other sophomores preparing for a chance to contribute include attacker Sam Busby (La Jolla Calif./La Jolla HS), center Christian Cardey (Riverside, Calif./Riverside Poly HS), attacker Telford Cottam (Costa Mesa, Calif./ Newport Beach HS), utility Christian Flowers (Honolulu, Hawaii/ Mid Pacific Institute), attacker Preston Lujan (Coronado, Calif./Coronado HS), attacker Chase Parlee (Huntington Beach, Calif./Marina HS), center Nelson Rudolph (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo HS), attacker Taylor Watson (Alamo, Calif./ Monte Vista HS) and utility Charles Wright (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Wilson HS).
Freshmen hoping to make an impact either this year or next include attacker Alex Bergeson (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS), attacker Travis Gough (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS), attacker Blake Hubbell (Malibu, Calif./Royal HS), attacker Erick Macdonell (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine HS), goalkeeper Bryce McLain (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Beach HS), attacker Graham Saber (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Santa Fe Christian), and attacker Uriel Villan (Commerce, Calif./Montebello HS).
“We are very excited for the year to begin,” Kocur said. “We have a realistic chance of winning the national championship this year and that motivates us.”