THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A mix of returning players and a large incoming class sets the Division III No. 5 ranked Cal Lutheran women’s water polo team up for a competitive 2013 campaign despite a very difficult schedule that features numerous Division I opponents early in the season.
A group of eight freshmen will experience collegiate water polo for the first time, joining with a core of 11 returning players that feature a quartet of seniors.
“Our seniors are very strong players and leaders,” tenth year head coach Craig Rond went on, “They will be able to mold the younger players so we should be fine.”
Leading that effort will be 2012 Honorable Mention All-American Morgan McCardell. Joining the Regals from UC Irvine, McCardell made an immediate impact last year, as the team-leader with 28 assists while tying for the team lead in steals (41), adding 31 goals and 12 drawn ejections after starting 27 games.
Rond expects big things from McCardell this spring.
“Morgan’s role as an attacker and scorer will be heightened as she is the only returning All-American. Her experience as a Division I athlete will help her as she takes the reigns of the team as a captain.”
Also returning for her senior season is Shannon Streeter. The center played in all 29 games a year ago and started 19 times. She was third on the 2012 team with 30 steals, recording 16 drawn ejections, handing out 12 assists and scoring 20 times.
When asked about her role, Rond said, “Shannon is a very strong center and we will look to her to establish great position in front of the cage.”
After a car accident in December of 2011 forced Jane Galluzzi from the pool and school, she returns healthy and ready to contribute during her senior season. Galluzzi was a threat in each of her first three seasons for the Regals. As a junior in 2011 she led the team with 44 goals and was second with 39 steals while tallying 14 assists and 12 drawn ejections.
“Jane will be a huge asset to our team,” Rond went on, “She is probably one of the biggest reasons we fell a little short last year. But she is healthy now and should do great things out there for us.”
Rounding out the senior foursome is goalkeeper Kylee Tomasetti. In 2012 she started all 17 games she appeared in and made 119 saves. She also contributed with 16 steals, seven assists and even scored a goal for the Regals last spring.
Look for Tomasettie to be a multi-faceted leader.
“Kylee has shown incredible promise in her career,” Rond shared. “She has approached this season with great confidence and leadership and that should go a long way toward her success.” He finished by saying, “She is a tenacious competitor and great communicator as the defensive anchor in the cage.”
A strong sophomore group of Kehau Ai, Jordan Card, Adrienne Ingalla, Kaylee Kastrup, Illissa Mestas and Skylar Vasquez returns with a year of collegiate experience and a heightened role.
“The sophomore class is very talented and will be looked upon with greater urgency now that they all have their freshman jitters out of the way,” Rond noted. “Jordan, Illissa, Adrienne and Kehau will all have greater responsibility this year.”
Last season Ai did not miss a beat transitioning to the collegiate level. She was responsible for 29 goals and is the second highest scoring returner. Ai handed out 16 assists, which tied her for third on the team in 2012, while adding 20 steals and drawing seven ejections in her first season with the Regals. Ingalla and Card scored 15 and 14 goals, respectively. Ingalla recorded 27 steals and 15 assists with Card drawing 11 ejections. Mestas netted seven goals.
Transitioning from a goalkeeper to a field player, Vasquez has shown her explosiveness in the pool as an attacker.
Also set to assume a larger role is junior Lauren Ray. Last season she scored 10 goals.
Freshmen lefties Amanda Jones and Tatiana McCuaig were described as having “good instincts” and will be asked to play minutes early to get them up to the speed of the college game. Julie Samarin will provide a rest for Streeter from time to time as a center.
Described as “extremely talented,” freshman Gina Merry will be vying for playing time in front of the cage this year.
Rounding out the 2013 roster are junior Lindsay Bowden and freshmen Morgan Cook, Sami Harvey, Bailey Likewise and Madison Jaramillo.
One of the main reasons the Regals are poised to make an impact in the pool is their understanding and knowledge of the game as a collective unit.
“This team appears to have very high water polo IQ,” Rond shared. “And that will serve as one of our strengths this season.”
Cal Lutheran gets the season underway on Saturday, Feb. 9 when they travel to Division I No. 3 UCLA to play the Bruins at 1:00 p.m.