Water polo team sees success as program develops

The Lake Orion Water Polo team may be a young program, but it continues to see improvement and has postseason aspirations as the team continues to develop.
“The team has done really well this season overall. We grew in numbers from 18 last year to 26 boys on the team this year. This has allowed us to have a full JV and Varsity team and really develop the program as a whole,” Coach John Jess said.
Water polo is not an OAA sport but is supported by the MWPA (Michigan Water Polo Association). In their district the Dragons are 2-4, fifth out of seven teams. Their overall record is 12-13, 7-5 in dual games.
“As a team, we had three total wins last year, so to grow from only three wins to being a .500 team this year is a big accomplishment,” Jess said. “We are now able to beat teams that we were competitive with last year and compete against teams that we used to have no chance against.”
The team has 10 seniors this year, seven returning from last season.
“We have had a really strong group of seniors this year and that has helped lead to our success.”
“We have our district/post-season coming up on Friday, and we are in a position this year to compete in the game and have a chance to move on to the regional competition.”
Last year at this time, the team was eighth in the district.
“To go from the last place team to a team that has a chance to move on really shows the effort the boys have put in and the growth they’ve had over the season,” Jess said.
Jess said senior captain Michael Lowry, one of the team’s captains, has helped the Dragons continued improvement. “He has been a major part in the success we’ve had this season with his ability to keep us in games. He has a 77 percent save percentage in our last seven games, which is quite high.
“One of the other captains, Avery Womack, has done a great job defensively for us this season and leads the team with 63 steals. Our top scorers have been junior Evan Lindquist with 51 goals and senior Gianluca Saletta with 39 goals.
“I am really pleased with how the team has grown defensively. When we are able to limit the opponent in scoring, we can have a chance in any game.”
“The Varsity players have really learned how to work together and play great team defense with all six boys and the goalie working to stop the other team,” Jess said.
To be competitive in the postseason, the team needs to improve its offensive proficiency, Jess said. “As part of our growth, we have really improved on the offensive end in terms of setting up plays and creating scoring opportunities. If we would like to advance and have success in the postseason, we need to be able to create those opportunities and convert them into points.”
The Dragons will play Birmingham Seaholm in the 4/5 match up for our District to begin postseason play.
“If we win that game, we will play two more to seed us for the regional competition the next weekend,” Jess said. — J.N.