“They’re coming together as a team,” said Plurkowski of the girls team, which lost 15-3 to Liberty last Wednesday. “Getting all the way to the shot and then just missing the shot.”
The girls team has started the BVAL season 0-2, losing to Heritage and Liberty. Looking beyond the record, the Panthers do field talented players who can provide excitement and energy. One of those is Shelbi Graifman, who despite her freshman status is a starter and the focal point of the offense.
“I think we’re doing a lot better than I anticipated and I think that we’ve really come along as a team,” said Graifman. “Some of the people who haven’t played are really getting the hang of it.”
Plurkowski is looking for leadership from co-captains Casey Blalock and Alexis Hagler. Blalock notched the Panthers’ first two goals against Liberty; Hagler is the team’s senior goalie. “You have got to know your teammates and how they play,” said Hagler, who noted that the team has improved since the start of the year. “You’ve got to know how the team that you’re going against plays. Pretty much knowing all players.”
The Antioch boys are also off to a rough start. After a 17-1 loss to Liberty, the Panther boys have fallen to 0-7, including two league losses. The boys’ roster is also loaded with players from the Antioch baseball team.
“They have strong arms; we’re just trying to get their legs and swimming abilities down so they can keep up with the year-around aquatic people,” Plurkowski said of his baseball players. “But they’re picking the game up pretty quickly, too. They’ve had two matches and a tournament, so this is their seventh game, but they’re coming along.”
The boys team comprises roughly half baseball players and half aquatic athletes. Plurkowski identified Michael McGoldrick, Kevin Hendricks and Josh Ryder as team leaders. McGoldrick and Hendricks are among the baseball players who’ve picked up water polo quickly.
“They’re starting to play together as a team, so it’s really exciting to see them around the pool,” said Plurkowski, who was pleased with the development of his young team. “Our shots are looking good; we just need to get a few more in.”
Despite the winless records, Plurkowski is optimistic that the Panthers, both boys and girls, are on their way to becoming much stronger teams. “We’re hoping to get one or two wins this year in the league for both boys and girls. The girls still have a tournament coming up, so hopefully a win in there, too,” he said. “We’re hoping to play some good ball against these teams and at least have some close games.”