Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Women’s water polo team makes a majestic splash to kick off the season

Linh Tran
The Augustana College Women Water Polo enjoys their break during the USA Water Polo DIII National Tournament on Sunday, May 7, 2023.

The women’s water polo team kicked off their season with a pair of games against McKendree University and Carthage College. On Feb. 10, the Vikings fell to McKendree University with a score of 8-11 but won their matchup against Carthage College with a score of 12-4. This past weekend the Vikings went 4-0 at the Macalester Invite in St. Paul, MN. Currently, the team has a record of 5-1 for the season.

“I was pleased with how things went,” Head Coach Ryan Pryor said. “That first game I felt like we had some first-game jitters to get out of the way, but overall, we did a lot of really good things. This was the best we’ve done compared to previous years.” 

Pryor pointed out the beneficial contributions of new players and the need for a balanced development approach. 

“We have a talented group of newcomers, and they’ve integrated pretty seamlessly,” Pryor said. 

He appreciated the new players’ rapid adaptation and looks forward to their significant contributions to the team’s success. 

As the Vikings start their third season, they hope to improve on their previous success, which included qualifying for nationals and capturing the conference championship last year. 

Pryor said he hopes that the team’s desire to take the next great step ahead, repeating as conference champions, returning to nationals and ultimately competing for a national championship.

Junior Ocean Akau said the group’s close-knit mentality is important. She emphasized the team’s balance of striving for athletic success while still maintaining an enjoyable and supportive environment. 

“We’re a group that has a good balance between being very driven towards our athletic goals and also having fun together as well,” Akau said.

All the players said the team has a supportive nature and chemistry together. They focus on leaving the mistakes behind and learning from them. 

“We’re all in this together. No one’s labeled as a bad player,” junior Maggie Caliendo, an attacker on the team, said. 

As the season progresses, the Vikings will face tougher opponents in various tournaments.

Coach Pryor expressed his excitement about playing new teams under the updated league system, focusing on the team’s preparation for the league championship and, eventually, the national championship in April. 

“We want to win conference championships,” Pryor said. “We want to qualify for nationals and we ultimately want to win national championships, and so far, we’ve done very well with those… We’ve been ranked in the top 10 in the country for the last I think it’s 34 consecutive weeks, now spanning the last parts of three seasons.” 

With an emphasis on constant progress and a supportive team culture, the Vikings’ women’s water polo team appears to be on track for another successful season to make waves in the competitive water polo world.

As the Augustana Vikings women’s water polo team begins its third season, Caliendo acknowledges that the team’s success is strongly attributed to the connection between each other.

“We’re not a water polo team. We are a team of water polo players,” Caliendo said.

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