Men's Water Polo Looking for Senior Experience to Take Them to New Heights in 2012
Aug. 28, 2012
MALIBU, Calif. - Filled with a talented group of experienced returners, the 2012 Pepperdine men's water polo team has high expectations as they look to advance to new heights in 2012.
"We had a very good summer and preseason has been going very well," interim head coach Gary O'Brien said. "The guys are very much in shape. We have a lot of seniors returning who look very strong."
After finishing with a record of 12-14 and an eighth ranking nationally in 2011, the Waves have high hopes that this year's experienced group will come together this year after having played together for three seasons. Overall they boast 13 returners, including eight seniors that are ready for this year to be their time.
"We really are very experienced and strong. Having that water polo experience will take us down the long road which is the season. They have come a long way in the last three years and I think they are ready for success this year," O'Brien explained.
O'Brien will lead the Waves as interim head coach in 2012, after spending the past four seasons as an assistant coach. He will be assisted by William "Willo" Rodriguez, back for his second stint as an assistant coach after a standout playing career at Pepperdine. Terry Schroeder, former Pepperdine student-athlete, coach and current U.S. Olympic Team coach, will be regaining the helm in 2013 and will assist in a volunteer capacity this season.
The Waves boast strong, experienced players at all positions, highlighted by the likes of senior two-meter offense Spencer Hamby (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS), a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, senior left-handed driver Matthew DeTrane (Moraga, Calif./Diablo Valley College/Campolindo HS) and junior goalkeeper Bence Valics (Eger, Hungary/ Szilagyi Erzsebet Secondary).
Hamby, an ACWPC All-American honorable mention selection and All-MPSF honorable mention in 2011 is a force for the Waves at the two-meter offense position. He played in 21 games, amassing 22 goals, four assists and 11 steals as a junior. He will be joined at the position by another experienced player in redshirt senior Matt Brown (Bellevue, Wash./Brown Academy). Brown stands 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds and will be a tough matchup for any opponent. Rounding out the position is redshirt freshman Josh Tice (Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS), another physical specimen at 6-foot-7, who has been coming on really strong this summer.
DeTrane, also an ACWPC All-American honorable mention selection after leading the Waves with 43 goals in 2011, is set to return as one of the top left-handed drivers in the country in 2012. The lanky 6-foot-5 DeTrane will also be key for the Waves in the assists category and steals, as he finished his junior campaign with 20 and 17, respectively.
Other drivers looking to make an impact this season include a talented group of experienced upperclassmen in Mike Tragitt (Clovis, Calif./Clovis HS), Parker Peterson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS), Tommy Briskey (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte HS/California), Stephen Loomis (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo HS).
Goalkeeper Valics enters 2012 with two seasons of experience under his belt. A member of the 2011 MPSF All-Academic team, Valics started 21 games last season and made 237 saves along with 14 steals.
On Valics, O'Brien said, "Bence is now in everybody's eyes one of the best goalies in the country. His legs are so much stronger, he can move all around the goal and he is very vocal. He is a huge asset for this team. We can rely on him in the goal."
Another senior, James Perry (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte HS), will move from the two-meter offense position he played last season to two-meter defense. Senior Colin Carroll (Fountain Valley, Calif./Mater Dei HS), one of the Waves' fastest athletes will also play the position, along with junior Nick Cooper (Clayton, Calif./De La Salle HS).
The Waves boast a large freshman class of 16 student-athletes, with Wesley Sherburne (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar HS) and Austin Miller (Alta Loma, Calif./Damien HS) being true freshmen that will play roles for the Waves in 2012. Joining them will be Golden West College transfer Marko Madaras (Eger, Hungary/Golden West College), a junior college All-American.
"With a big freshman class, a lot will be redshirting this season," O'Brien explained. "Wesley Sherburne and Austin Miller, along with Madaras will be playing and we expect to make a big impact this season. They are very fast, very mobile, very intelligent players, being able to play with such a big senior class. They will learn a lot from our older guys this year."
Although the Waves are strong up and down the roster and O'Brien is quick to point out the team's overall strength, he mentions Peterson, Briskey and Brown as summer and preseason standouts.
"Parker Peterson has put in a lot of effort and Tommy Briskey is playing fantastic right now on the left side," O'Brien said. "Our team is really, really strong and no one person stands out. You have Matt Brown at 6'5", 245 who is an unstoppable player right now. In my eyes we have a lot of players that cause problems for other teams."
On what will be key for the Waves to take that extra step this season, O'Brien said, "I think we just have to learn to believe in ourselves. We have finished eighth and ninth in the country the last few years, and while that is good, we look to step into the top five this year. Confidence in ourselves and our ability is the most important thing for us right now."
"Our goal would be to get to the national championships this year. We would love to have a steady, long road this season, where we win some games and are top two or three in the country to get that bid to the national championships. Hopefully we have a strong opening weekend coming up to set the stage."