Oberlin College water polo continues to succeed
Back from a two year hiatus due to a sequential forfeit streak and expulsion from the Ohio Valley League, the Oberlin College water polo squad returns with complete domination and sweatshirts bearing the slogan, “chicks dig us.” With an undefeated season and an upcoming game against Akron University, the future looks promising for this blossoming team.
Headed by senior Gabo Golden and junior Zack Kaplan-Moss, the team is experiencing a complete transformation. With five practices a week and full-pool scrimmages each Sunday, the squad has kicked up its intensity and work ethic upon Kaplan-Moss’s return from what he describes as “a spiritual eco-village with ex-hippies” in Findhorn, Scotland.
The team has also witnessed a large increase in participants, which Kaplan-Moss attributes to “the charisma, hard work and razor-sharp charm of the captains.” The ExCo, taught by both Golden and Kaplan-Moss, has around 17 co-ed members at Tuesday and Thursday night practices. The more intense club team has anywhere from two to 10 participants.
This large increase in numbers is unusual for such a brutal sport, where old rules promoted the formation of a “goon squad,” whose sole purpose was to assault and injure their opponents. Golden is also surprised at the drastic increase in participants because “most people are scared of water. The swimmers who have the perfect speed and strength for polo are often uncoordinated.”
So, how did Golden and Kaplan-Moss, two talented members of the Yeomen swim team, become involved in water polo? “We were water polo players first, swimmers second,” said Kaplan-Moss. Both captains played year-round competitive polo in their California high schools.
Polo is very popular in California, where Stanford remains the reigning collegiate team. Golden took one year off to reevaluate his future as a polo player, swimmer and talented bass player his senior year of high school. He realized he couldn’t live without polo and has been playing since. Kaplan-Moss has recurring shoulder problems which sporadically kept him out of the pool throughout high school.
The dynamic duo admits that polo is “the most grueling sport in the world.” From bloodied noses to deep gashes, Golden and Kaplan-Moss have experienced the works. Kaplan-Moss describes a professional match in Hungary, the water polo powerhouse of the world, where the match was cancelled because of too much blood in the pool.
How do these two deal with the roughness and brutality of their opponents? Basically, both take a smart but merciless approach to the game. Golden was ejected from every game his first-year of college due to his consistent force and ruthless tactics, but has learned control and restraint that only comes with experience.
Kaplan-Moss recalled a heart-wrenching tale of his last game of high school in which he was ejected during the second quarter. He describes the event as the “only game his friends and family came to watch” and how he “was nowhere near the penalty.” His team lost 6-2, ruining their chances at the playoff title.
Despite the brutality, both bring a fiery passion for the sport, which is reflected by their commitment and dedication to rebuilding the water polo program. Many changes have already been made this year, including the purchase of new shot clocks. Golden hopes to purchase new goals, balls and caps by the end of the year. Both captains are also working to restore Oberlin’s reputation in the water polo league over the next two years.
The Oberlin Water Polo squad is finally back on track. With key players including juniors Thomas Limouze, Yorgos Strangas and Craig Betchart, the team hopes to continue its winning streak. When asked about winning predictions before Wednesday’s game against Akron, Golden replied, “Sure. We are little water polo beasts.”
Oberlin’s undefeated water polo team proved itself once again in its repeat match against Akron Wednesday night. The Yeomen traveled to Akron’s Olympic-sized pool and dominated in a 15-9 win against the Akron Zips.
Despite setbacks, including a mising goalie, the team played with what captain Golden called “complete domination.” Akron loaned the Yeomen one of their new players to tend goal, which enabled Golden and co-captian Kaplan-Moss to play in the field and, as Golden stated, “augment our team’s already dominant presence in the water.”
Some highlights from the game included a stellar performance by newcomer
sophomore Emily Spence. Professor Cortland Hill scored two goals and, as Golden
claimed, “played like the true beast he is.” Other key plays were
made by Limouze, first-year Leah Hatfield and sophomore Lisa Weigle to take
advantage of the many ejections Akron incurred, leaving the Yeomen with a man-up
situation. This game marks the end of the season for the team.