THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. –With a strong core of nine returning athletes and a talented incoming class of nine, the Cal Lutheran women’s water polo team enters the 2014 season ranked No. 5 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Preseason Poll under the tutelage of 11th year head coach Craig Rond.
A new season brings another tough schedule that features 17 ranked teams from all levels of the NCAA, Division I, II and III, as well as NAIA opponents for the Regals. Preparation in the off season, improved team chemistry, the ability to trust one another and the focus on a common goal will all aid in the success of a squad that returns to the pool hungry to challenge for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title against some of the top D-III programs in the nation.
A fourth place finish in 2013 left the Regals wanting more. The roster features no seniors, allowing junior tri-captains Jordan Card, Adrienne Ingalla and Kaylee Kastrup to step up and embrace early leadership roles.
A year ago all three contributed significantly with Card earning CWPA Second Team All-America honors after the season while Ingalla received Honorable Mention. Card was the top goal scorer for CLU a year ago with a career-high 45 while also leading the team in drawn ejections (54) and will be a threat again this spring.
After earning her way into the starting rotation as a sophomore, Ingalla proved to be a valuable asset for Cal Lutheran at both ends of the pool, recording team-bests of 69 steals and nine field blocks while chipping in with 36 goals as well.
Kastrup also came into her own as a sophomore and brought balance and leadership to the pool. In 28 starts she was a nuisance to opponents all season, tallying 49 steals, six field blocks, 18 goals and 17 assists as one of the most consistent Regals on the roster a year ago.
Rounding out the junior class is Illissa Mestas who will assume an increased role this spring. After coming off the bench in 21 games last year, look for the attacker to compete for a starting spot this season.
Returning with a year of collegiate experience is a sophomore class of five that includes Sami Harvey, Amanda Jones, Bailey Likewise, Tatiana McCuaig and Gina Merry.
Upon graduation of Kylee Tomasetti (’13), Merry is ready to take over the goalkeeping duties after seeing 232 minutes of action, recording 66 blocks, in limited playing time during her first campaign.
In 2013, Jones, a utility player, appeared in all 28 games and ranked fourth on the team with 18 assists. She also came up with 17 steals and 13 goals. Harvey, Likewise and McCuaig will each have a chance to contribute as well.
Joining the Violet and Gold as transfers is the pair of Hannah Andrews and Sydney Foster who each spent a year out of the pool while attending Arizona State and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, respectively, in 2012-13.
Suiting up for the Regals for the first time is a true freshman class of seven. KC Brendel (Cathedral Catholic HS), Devin Foster (Riverside Poly HS), Audrey Neilan (El Camino HS), Kimber Sanchez (Oxnard HS) and Logan Young (Vista Murrieta HS) should each make immediate impacts to the program. Rounding out the incoming group are Katelyn Dembowski (Buena HS) and Sara Simpson (Newport HS).
Cal Lutheran opens the 2014 season on the road at Cal Baptist with a pair of games on Friday, Feb. 14. The first will pit the Regals against Azusa Pacific at 10:30 a.m. before facing the host team at 3:00 p.m.
Roster: 2014 CLU Women’s Water Polo Roster
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