Water polo treads through rough water


Junior Maddie Kutzera, against a Newport High School player, defends the ball as she searches the pool for a team member who would receive the pass.

Joey Matsuzawa, Reporter

Though the start of season looked bright with its senior captains Natalie Hoffman and Ailish Collins heading the effort to state, both captains suffered injuries in the consecutive games against Bellevue and then Bainbridge Island.

Hoffman, the team’s leader on offense, missed 4 weeks due to a sprained shoulder rotator cuff. It was sprained when Hoffman successfully blocked a shot off of a breakaway from an advancing Bellevue player. Collins, the team’s goalie and leader on defense, injured her already damaged knee during the team’s following game against Bainbridge Island, and is out for the season.

“I wasn’t able to lift my arm for a week, let alone get into the water and swim,” Hoffman said.

After winning their first game of the season against Bainbridge Island, as well as nearly upsetting  a strong Newport team, the new season for girls water polo looked bright. With a mix of new talent and veteran leadership, the team was poised to make a run at state.

“My expectations for this season were to play a lot cleaner than last year.We’re a lot better than we have been since the team started a few years ago, as people get more experienced and a lot of us now play outside of school,” sophomore Sarah Grabowski said.

Though Hoffman later returned on April 22, but with both captains out of commission during that time, the team has struggled, losing three of their next four games.

“[Our absences] have definitely impacted us on offense as well as defense,” Collins said. “We’re not getting as many shots off and more people are able to shoot on us.”

While both captains were injured or healing, players like Grabowski and junior Natalia Girling have been forced to fill the empty roles. Grabowski has been primarily filling Hoffman’s role while Girling takes over in goal for Collins.

“It’s made other people who don’t have as much leadership skills step up and lead the team, which also helps us prepare for next year with both [Hoffman and Collins] graduating,” Girling said.

To make it to state, the girls need to win at least one out of the four remaining league games to qualify for the regional tournament on the path to state.