In their third season, the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Water Polo team came out to its hottest last fall semester. The team started the season off with a quality win over Iona in overtime, and then went on to win two of their next three. Overall, on the year, they are four and three thus far.
There were many factors that went into creating a winning culture, and after three years, it appears that culture-building has begun to pay off.
Head Coach Alyssa Diacono explained that having players in their third year of this program (the entire program's existence) really helped to add to that. The players knowing what to expect year in and year out helps to get consistent play and allows people to know what to expect.
Justine Miller, the Associate Director of Athletics for Academics and Sports Administrator for the Water Polo programs, agreed with the statement. “Having student-athletes who are experienced or have been part of your program since year one can help the new players along. When You are in a first-year program everything is new,” said Miller. Unlike a first-year program, having those that can help the young players along play a key part.
Coach Diacono said another reason this team has improved is the growth in team maturity over the years. However, it is not just the growth of players that has caused this impact on the team’s strong start. Junior Kiahi Horan stated so himself, “The coaches this pre-season really helped. The training has been building on good things.”
Other ways the team improved was through the recruitment of players, both first-years and transfer players. Sophomore Zach Fischer explained that having more numbers was super helpful, and not just any players, quality players who people felt comfortable with. It was important, Fischer said to him and his teammates, that he could rely on his guys to have his back when they subbed in.
Horan added that the team has also held themselves accountable during the season, and the summer. “A lot of people came back fitter and put in hard work during the off-season.” Horan continued that it helped not just to learn new things this season but building on strong things the team did last year.
The culture that has been building over the past three seasons was not just for the upper class students, but also to help show what the team expected from first-years this year. Assistant Coach Justin Vink explained that, at this point, it is clear what the coaches and players expect. It is not just working hard, Vink and Diacono said, but giving 100% on all occasions. With this group of players, the accountability is there to hold the team to that.
The players, this year, seem to have confidence that has been growing from their strong off-season, and that was echoed by first-year student, Sherif Hosni: “I’ve been following the Mount a long time. I feel this year we will grow a lot.”
The rest of the team seems to feel the same way as they started the longest stretch of their season. After a grueling weekend in Erie, Penn., the team went to Annapolis to play Navy. After that, the team headed out to its first-ever West Coast trip in the program's history.