2010 SEASON PREVIEW
PASADENA, Calif. - The road to competitive play is on the minds of the Caltech men's water polo squad with preparation about to start for the 2010 season. As the Beavers return to campus to begin their journey for the year, their hopes are high and their coffers full of experience. With the most seasoned group to hit the water in many seasons, this year's team has the potential to step up to take the program to the next level.
With a 0-16 record marking last year's campaign, the team hopes to spring into the new year on the sweat equity they invested last season. Using the first half of the season to really settle into their identity, the roster has hit their stride behind the leadership of Jack Blackwood. Earning honorable mention for all conference honors, Blackwood leads the attack in the tank for the Beavers. Blackwood upped the ante for Tech, and his attacking mindset during practice will play a big part in the readiness of the roster when it comes time to lay down its mark for the year.
Captain Ryan Newton is charged with steering the crew. Newton is the focused one, and will be the voice in the water directing traffic and reminding everyone of the goal.
Looking back at the voids the Beavers need to fill, the gap that proves the biggest hole is protecting the cage. With the loss of goalkeeper Christian Rivas, the Beavs are interviewing stoppers every day until the best match rises to the job. Rivas served as the rock on defense, and losing his goalkeeping talents will impact significantly what schemes the Beavers can run in the defensive end of the tank. Graduation sent Aryan Safaie on to other horizons, leaving the strong man role to be filled. Safaie's physical approach to competition and overall strength forces new faces on the roster to step in and police their water. Watch for rising juniors Dan Sexton and Josh Hardenbrook to take over the enforcer cap. With the return of a healthy center defender in Adam Khan and his shutdown center defense, the Beavers should compete with the bottom half of the conference.
With 13 returners, Tech is in a new spot. Usually the Beavers are looking at more new faces than experienced ones. This season may be the start of a new tradition. Returner Dan Sexton, who had shoulder issues a season ago, looks to come into his own to and supplement Blackwood at center. Newton, Zack Gomez and Tommy Kwong add energy on the perimeter. This trio cannot afford to be role players in 2010. Their knowledge has caught up with their skill sets and their contribution must be felt for this team to succeed.
Three newcomers don caps for their plunge into the pool. Hardenbrook returns from a 2-year sabbatical to add needed depth, while the swim teams ranks provide Chris Hallacy. The team is hoping Hallacy brings the strength of his swim stroke to help their transition abilities.
The Beavers have modest goals, but big dreams. Knowing they can return better than they finished in 2009, look for the Beavers to thump unsuspecting opponents. With the Claremont Convergence tourney on the horizon, a field of east coast visitors will give Tech its first benchmark. Caltech hopes to find its competitive groove and settle into the type of play they will need to compete through the conference schedule. With some of the top teams in Division III calling SCIAC home, the Beavers will use the non-conference schedule to work out the kinks and be ready for the real heat of SCIAC. As the conference schedule unfolds, Tech hopes to have laid the foundation to be ready to get into the mix and create the best season in the program's existence.