By Joaquin Basauri / Campus Editor
Southwestern College Sun
Coming off of their most successful season ever, the men’s water polo team felt like it was riding a wave. This season, however, has been a complete wipeout.
With a record of 4-13, the Jaguars are assured a losing season and a return to a past marred by perpetual underachievement.
“Last year we went 14-12, which was the first time SWC has ever had a winning record,” said head coach Jorge Ortega. “We would love to build on that, but you just don’t get the same guys back. The reality of the situation is that we’ll probably only get three guys back next season.”
SWC has had a soggy season despite having Nick Howard, the state’s number one player.
A freshman, Howard has flourished under his former high school coach. He and sophomore Justin Patacsil have combined for 121 goals, the most dangerous strike partnership in the California.
“Nick and I normally play the entire game in utility positions,” said Patascil. “It gives us the opportunity to move around and set each other up. We’ve developed a pretty good chemistry.”
“I had never played with Justin before, just against him,” said Howard. “But we ended up meshing together well. We complement each other.”
As the pair continue to overachieve, the rest of the team has relied on them for all their scoring, making the Jags easy to defend.
“The gap between our second and third top scorers is ridiculous,” said Ortega. “We need more guys to step up and take shots, even if they miss. Our most successful games are those that everyone gets involved in.”
SWC is currently tied with Palomar College for third place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, at two wins each. SWC, however, only has one PCAC match left, Palomar has three.
“Conference play has been a problem because we have only 12 players,” said Ortega. “Especially when five of the seven starters don’t come out of the game. We play three solid quarters and put ourselves in good positions to win, but have a tough time in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to ask any of these guys to play an entire game without rest.”
Redemption, though, is not out of reach just yet. The PCAC tournament takes place November 8-9 at Miramar College. Due to the small size of the conference and the short amount of time in between matches for all the teams, it is possible for the Jags to pull off an upset and progress onto the State Tournament.
Essential to success in the tournament will be sophomore goalie Rhett Pitcock, currently second in the state for saves. Despite his heroics in goal, the Jags have allowed 245 goals, more than any other team in the state.
“I think those stats just show how hard I’m trying,” said Pitcock. “But the team as a whole needs to care more about the goalie. Far too often I end up alone and outnumbered.”
Pitcock continues to work at improving.
“I have put in a lot more training to prepare myself for this season, especially into strengthening my legs,” he said. “So far I think I’ve seen the dividends of that hard work despite our record.”
Pitcock said the team has upside, especially if Ortega can convince his freshman to return next year.
“The team is in good hands next season with players like Nick coming back,” he said. “The guys will have been playing together longer and have developed more chemistry. And a team with seven sophomores will always be better than a team with seven freshman.”