Women’s water polo eyes win, nationals bid as Notre Dame meet approaches

GVL / Eric Coulter
Coach Josh Ahrendt instructs the athletes in the pool during practice

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Coach Josh Ahrendt instructs the athletes in the pool during practice

Bryce Derouin

The Grand Valley State women’s water polo team has one goal in mind for its season: beat the University of Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame is our biggest rival and they are in our conference,” said senior co-captain Kaitlin Dean. “The conference usually comes down to us and them, and it’s always our No.1 goal to beat Notre Dame because if we can, we can go to nationals.”

Before the Lakers can set their sights on the Irish, they are going to have to work out their own kinks.

“We need to improve on the offensive side of the pool,” said fifth-year head coach Josh Ahrendt. “Our girls are working hard at practice and committing to doing the things expected of them. Building up a little more chemistry will definitely help us out a lot too.”

GVSU is going to have to rely on the underclassman to make a positive impact on the team this year. The Lakers boast a young roster, with 10 of the 16 players underclassman.

“We’ll have to get contributions from the younger players on the team,” Ahrendt said. “I think they are more than capable of helping the team, and I’m excited to see how they turn out.”

The Lakers already have one meet under their belts, and the tournament exemplified the type of progress the team is making.

GVSU dropped their first match against Illinois 5-6, tied Michigan State alumni 6-6 and then defeated OKRED 5-2. The Lakers then lost to the University of Michigan 3-7.

“The team is playing pretty well,” Ahrendt said. “I’m coming away pretty pleased from the weekend. We want to compete for a conference championship, and hopefully win it in the end.”

GVSU is still trying to develop team continuity and develop chemistry in the pool.

“We’re improving and working as a team more,” said junior co-captain Samantha Chrichton. “We are working as one unit instead of separate people in the water.”

Team chemistry outside of the pool makes it easier for the Lakers to get on the same page, and their chemistry makes it easier for the team to achieve their goals together.

“The girls all get along very well,” Dean said. “There are no cliques on the team. We all understand that our main goal is to work together to win our games.”

Continuing to improve since day one will be vital to the Lakers success. The players have already seen the team making progress since the first day of practice.

“We’ve progressed a lot from the first day of the practice,” Dean said. “Over the weekend it was obvious to see that our passing got a lot better and we were able to run different plays. You could see us progressing and getting better.”

Even with progress being made, GVSU is still aware of the areas they need to improve on if they want to become Mid-West conference champions.

“We’re really good at defense,” Chrichton said. “So if we can get our offense up to standards, we will have a really good team this year.”

GVSU will return to action Friday for the three-day Fenwick Tournament.

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