The Patriots’ top three all-time leading scorers graduated, but 11 of their 16 letter-winners from 2009 are returning, bolstering hopes for a strong 2010 campaign. All-time leading scorers Nick Araujo, Cyrus Blankenship and Clint Freeman are all gone, having moved on to play in college, but coach Derek Perkins is confident the pieces are in place for another successful run.
“This year’s team has some big shoes to fill,” said Perkins. “But they have known that all year, and have worked toward filling those expectations.”
Perkins singled out a few returners in particular who look to fill that void. The Patriots return all-league goalie Ty Elder, who is only a junior, along with inside players Travis West and Jackson Bahns, both seniors, to go with perimeter player Kurt Holzmuller, who was first-team all-league last season and is entering his third season with the varsity.
“West and Bahns are our inside firepower, while it is very exciting to get back a goalie who was able to earn all-league status as a sophomore,” said Perkins. “Holzmuller provides our team with speed. He was the 100-meter backstroke champion for the league, and he will be countering for us a lot this year.”
“I’m pretty excited overall,” added the coach when asked about the upcoming season. “Most of my team has played summer and winter water polo. These guys have put in a lot of work. They are dedicated to repeating the success of last year.”
Perkins said the Patriots’ goals are making it back to the NCS playoffs, placing themselves in position to win the BVAL, moving up in tournament finishes and competing throughout their non-league schedule, which includes some of the top teams in Northern California.
According to Perkins, Liberty should be their biggest threat. Perkins is well-acquainted with the Lions’ program, having graduated from Liberty in 2002. In addition, his brother, Leo Colbert, is the Lions’ starting goalie.
“A lot of the players in the two programs know each other,” said Perkins, acknowledging the rivalry between the schools. “They have played club water polo together for the past few seasons, so it should be a fun game when we get together.”