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Big Blue Beat: Varsity Water Polo Team

By Ethan Malzberg '19

Head Coach:
Misha Klochkov

Last season's highlights:
2016 was a winning season for Pingry's co-ed Varsity Water Polo team. Led by two-year Head Coach Misha Klochkov, along with Assistant Coaches Jeffrey Jenkins and Steve Droste, the team went 20-5. For the first time in several years, the program boasted a complete junior varsity lineup independent of its varsity team. Senior captains Henry Biedron '17 and Sandeep Biswas '17, in addition to junior captains Matt Stanton '18 and Victor Vollbrechthausen '18, helped lead the team to a victory in Flight IV of the Beast of the East Tournament, as well as the state crown at the Garden State Invitational.

What to watch for this season:

● Five freshmen—Noah Bergam, Matthew Fallon, Justin Li, Gerald O'Mara, and Christopher Halada—join the team this season and help fill the void left by five seniors who graduated. All five freshmen have previous experience in either swimming or water polo, allowing each player to bring strong skill sets and valuable experiences to the pool with them.

● Captains Jonathan Epifano '18, Billy Fallon '18, Matt Stanton '18, and Victor Vollbrechthausen '18 will all help lead the team this season, along with seniors Max Sanchez '18 and Connor Smith '18. Jonathan will take on the role of goalkeeper for the first time, after the loss of longtime goalie, Henry Biedron '17, to graduation.

● Coming off of an undefeated season, Coach Misha (who prefers that his athletes call him either "Coach" or "Misha"), Coach Jeff Jenkins, and Coach Steve Droste seek to replicate last season's success. Rigorous daily preseason practices throughout August have kept the team in shape, as they hone in on specific water polo skills such as the "egg beater" kicking method, passing with both the dominant and non-dominant arms, "fake" shots on the goal, and more.

● The hard work put in by the team last year and over the preseason will allow the team to begin the season on a high note. The team is gearing up for their opening match of the 2017 season on Saturday, September 2 against Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pennsylvania.

● For the first time, the team will compete in four different tournaments throughout the two-month season. In addition to the Beast of the East Tournament set for September 22-23, the Garden State Invitational taking place from October 27-28, and the Easterns Tournament set for November 4-5, new this year, Pingry will also compete in the Navy Aquatics Club Tournament at the United States Naval Academy on September 9.

Full-court Press:

"It will be a very interesting season. Our current leaders have enough experience, strength, and maturity to bring the program to a higher competitive level. At the same time, our younger players are extremely competitive. This will give us a chance to challenge the most developed water polo programs at both the varsity and junior varsity levels." —Head Coach Misha Klochkov

"Although we lost a few seniors this year, we have a lot of young talent to fill the void. In addition to the young talent we have, our more experienced players are continuing to get better and it is shaping up to be an exciting season." —Captain Matt Stanton '18

Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer,