Column: Water polo uses three values to find success

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Column: Water polo uses three values to find success

Sophomore utility player Emily Bennett attempts to pass the ball to junior utility player Shelby Kraft during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over Santa Clara on March 28 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Sophomore utility player Emily Bennett attempts to pass the ball to junior utility player Shelby Kraft during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over Santa Clara on March 28 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Aaron Tolentino

Sophomore utility player Emily Bennett attempts to pass the ball to junior utility player Shelby Kraft during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over Santa Clara on March 28 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Aaron Tolentino

Aaron Tolentino

Sophomore utility player Emily Bennett attempts to pass the ball to junior utility player Shelby Kraft during the Aztecs' 4-1 victory over Santa Clara on March 28 at the Aztec Aquaplex.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

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No. 20 San Diego State water polo lives by three values: intensity, unity and mindfulness to win year in and year out.

Two years ago, the Aztecs were in the Final Four and have played 16 ranked teams so far this season.

Despite being 6-10 in those games, head coach Carin Crawford said there has been more chances to get wins.

“Some of those ranked opponents have been excellent teams and we’ve felt like we’ve played well against some top teams,” Crawford said. “But, there’s been some ranked opponents that I don’t feel like we should be afraid of and should have beat. Some of those losses were lack of mindfulness and lack of intensity.”

As a result of the losses, changes are made to sustain winning to keep the team’s mentality up.

For example, the Aztecs inserted senior transfer Mary Myers into the starting lineup two weeks ago.

“(Myers) is a super vocal leader,” Crawford said. “Mary’s been the perfect answer to what we need with her energy and her skills to crash back at center.”

Every team needs to make adjustments, like the addition of Myers, who recorded a team-high three steals in the victory against Santa Clara on March 28.

However, Crawford said she does not want a lineup change to affect a player’s mentality.

“You don’t want to tell the player that used to start, ‘we’re not going to play you anymore, we’re washing our hands of you’ because we still need everyone,” Crawford said. “They were starters, so they are still valuable members of the team.”

Although the Scarlet and Black (15-12, 5-1 Golden Coast Conference) have had opportunities to get more wins against ranked opponents, they have stuck together even during the tough times.

“This team has great unity, so that part of our values has served us well and holds everyone together when times are bad,” Crawford said.

Senior captain Hannah Carrillo said the values this team preaches has balanced them this season.

“Unity – we’re all friends, there is no bad feelings with anyone, mindfulness – a work in progress all the time and intensity – for us, when we play (at home) it’s a little harder because we are where we practice and when we go (on the road), it’s a little easier to get into game mode,” Carrillo said. “There are things that we ask ourselves after each game or before each game and see if we’re ready mentally.”

Although the Aztecs have seen ups and downs this year, senior goalkeeper Maura Cantoni said the team assesses itself on how well it sticks to its morals before, during and after the games.

“Something we like to do is rate ourselves of our values,” Cantoni said, who was awarded with GCC Player of the Week honors on April 4. “We’ve had meetings where we rate ourselves and coming off of our weekend tournaments, we notice the trends of not filling our values as much. Reflecting helps us moving forward.”

Cantoni, who tied her career high with 17 saves against the Spartans, said stabilizing the team’s ethics has helped its charisma this season

“Our team can balance them pretty well,” Cantoni said. “The biggest thing, for me, is unity and our team chemistry this year has been so much better. We all like each other, we’re all friends and that’s really important and how we act outside of the pool – we bring it inside the pool, and we come as a strong unit.”

The Aztecs have two home games left. On April 12, they play Pacific in their final GCC game and eight days later they take on UCSD for the Harper Cup.

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