By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion High School varsity boys water polo team is off to a good start in the early tournaments, and though it is a young team with several new players, the Dragons have set personal and team goals they aim to achieve this season.
The team competed in their first tournament of the season at Troy High School, going 3-1 against opponents from across the state.
The team hosted first Dragon Invitational on Friday and Saturday in the Lake Orion High School Natatorium. The five-team tournament also included Chelsea, Mason/Grand Ledge, Troy United and Walled Lake.
First-year Coach Kyrstin Sheridan said the team is focused on improving in all aspects and the early tournaments are a good for honing the players’ skills and experience for the league season.
“I think it will be a good tune-up. We’ll get to see how (other teams) are doing so far in the season. Friday is the varsity games and Saturday is the JV-Varsity B, so lower varsity players, which is going to help us with our younger players, and tonight is going to help us develop our varsity players,” she said.
Joining Sheridan on the bench is assistant coach Brock Stieb, a 2017 Lake Orion High School graduate.
“It’s been going pretty well. We’ve been fighting some injuries right now. It’s a brand-new team, basically. I have three returning varsity players and everyone else is pretty much brand new, or only their second year playing,” Sheridan said. “So, we’re just figuring everything out and how to make everything work.”
The Dragons lost their first game of the Dragon Invitational to Walled Lake, 10-13. With a minute-and-a-half left in the third quarter, the team trailed by seven goals, 3-10, but fought back to keep the score close and give themselves a chance in the final quarter of play.
Sheridan said that kind of perseverance will help the team throughout the season, adding that the team is focused on developing it skills in all aspects of the game; passing and shooting, setting up for defense and attack and “developing the team as a whole.”
Senior J.P. Buckner is the captain of the team and Sheridan said he and returning senior Ben Gregg and junior Kyle Manganello will add some experience in the water to help the newer players.
Buckner had two goals against Walled Lake, as did senior Ryan Ludwa.
New goalie sophomore Adam Ehrenberger “is pretty good at seeing things on the field and telling the team what they need to do,” she said. Ehrenberger had 11 saves against Walled Lake on Friday.
The ultimate goal of the season, Sheridan said, who played three years at Troy Athens and a year at Troy United, is to “focus on personal and team goals that the players have, that we talked about on the first day of practice and developing those goals and making new goals.”
“I think we’re looking pretty good. We’ve got some strong players, including some new players, so I think we’re in pretty good shape as long as we can combat all these injuries that we’re fighting right now,” Sheridan said. “Everyone is pretty excited. It’s different from what they’ve had in the past. Everyone has been pushed really hard in practices, but they’ve been able to rise up to the occasion.”
The team’s next home game begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 in the LOHS Natatorium against Walled Lake Central High School.