Fords Water Polo is rolling into EA Day in a paradoxically familiar yet unfamiliar way. The water polo team has long been one of the most dominant sports at Haverford and continues to be, garnering 6 regular season wins in the Inter-Ac. In many cases, the Fords have defeated teams by double digits and in one case, defeated the Malvern Prep Friars 17-4, more than 4x times the score of their opponents.
On the other hand, the team’s 2 losses were to Episcopal Academy, the first time this has happened in many years. “We played very poorly in our game […] we now know exactly what it takes to beat them,” Sixth Former and Captain Jake LaRocca said.
Echoing the same sentiment, Sixth Former and Captain Bram Schork was not going to brush off the loss as an anomaly: “It was a bit of a wake up call. We realized that we really needed to reevaluate our game plan walking in.”
For many years, the team had been running the same offensive strategy. EA, after many years of being ruthlessly dominated in the pool, finally figured it out. “Our belief as a team,” Schorck said, “is that it was the best water polo that EA has played in a very long time.”
Apart from changing their offensive strategy, the Fords are working on playing as a team.
“In order to match their [EA’s] energy, we have a more skilled team, we just need to make sure we are able to work together,” Schork said.
Although the water polo team has seen more than their fair share of success this season, the best season of water polo in Haverford’s history came to a close in 2019. Whereas the Fords used to be able to get away with a certain level of team in-cohesiveness due to the sheer amount of talent, this year is a different story. This has factored into the Ford’s mentality: “There is a certain expectation that you have to put out in the games. Compared to previous years we don’t have as strong of a team so you need to show up to every game ready to play. But more importantly, we have such a young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores, that we [the upperclassmen] need to be leaders in the pool.”
LaRocca specifically praised two underclassmen, Third Former Ben McDade and Fourth Former Luke Putter, as having really stepped up their game this season. LaRocca remarked that, “They both work very hard and it definitely reflects during games.”
This reinvention came to fruition on November 6th when the Ford faced off against the Churchmice yet again, though, this time it was in the Easterns Prep Tournament. The Fords dominated the entire game winning 21-13. Schork and Sixth Former Avi Mehl picked up hat tricks and Sixth Former goalie Jaiden Shuchman had a fantastic game in net. Although this commanding win over the pitiable Churchmice stokes hope in both the team and the general Haverford community, the players are keeping their eyes on the prize.
“Since this is my last water polo game at the Haverford School, I plan to do everything I can to get the win. I’m not concerned with stats. I only care about coming home with a win,” LaRocca said.
“We want more than anything to win this last game.”Bram Schork ’22
Both Schork and LaRocca look back to the atmosphere of EA Day 2018 as something to expect for this year. Schork described EA Day 2018 as his “all time favorite event.” Although students likely will not be able to pack onto the pool deck as it was in 2018, Schork and LaRocca both expect the atmosphere to be exhilarating. “The sound of all their [spectators] echoing off the concrete walls is just an incredible feeling,” Schork said. Although LaRocca reiterated many of the same feelings towards the environment, he plans on taking a much more business-like approach to the game: “Although the crowd makes the game much more intense, we’re going into EA Day with the same plan as every other game. We know what we need to do to win, and the crowd will prout momentum which we’ll use to our advantage.”
“Even though we lost to EA earlier this season, we are not going to again. We changed our strategy and want it more than they do.” Schrock said, “We want more than anything to win this last game.”