The Liberty High School girls’ water polo team has gotten off to a hot start this season.
The squad (11-2, and 1-0 in league play) has flourished in the face of a tougher non-league schedule this season, while managing to also win two tournaments thus far.
“This team believes they are this good,” said head coach Jack Doria. “They believe they can win every contest they play, and who am I to say they can’t?”
The Lions’ strengths are their mental toughness and chemistry, Doria said.
The team has rolled over formidable opponents in the North Coast Section Division I runner-up College Park, as well as James Logan and Las Lomas.
Doria pointed to the team’s victory over College Park as a good barometer for the squad.
“We knew they would be tough to beat, especially at their pool,” Doria said. “We felt like if we could get a win there, it would give us an idea of where we stacked up. “
The team consists of six returning players and a handful of newcomers. The returning core is led by Olivia Doria (co-league MVP last season), Trinity Otis, Darynn Campanella, Genevieve Almgren, and Paige Henson — all constant offensive threats, getting better with each game — with one of the area’s best goalies, Avery Johnston, in the net.
“Her play in the goal may be the biggest factor in our success thus far,” Doria said. “It has allowed us to take risks, because we have complete faith and trust in her ability to block shots.”
Freshman Joslyn Dmitri has also been a key component of the team’s success, according to Doria.
Going forward, Doria said the team will need to stay healthy, maintain consistency, and not let little setbacks — like a few minor injuries, and a recent pesky virus — stand in its way.
In the pool, the Lions figure to play through Olivia Doria, who draws a lot of defense, opening up a lot of opportunities for other players to capitalize in a big way.
“The goal is obviously to win the league title, but you can’t mention the Bay Valley Athletic League championship without going through Heritage, who is a very formidable opponent, winning the NCS (North Coast Section) Division I title last year,” Doria said. “Coach Lapum will have his team ready; they have some big-time players and will be very tough to beat.
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, Doria is hopeful for the future.
“We hope to position ourselves to make a very deep run in the NCS tournament,” he said.