Women’s Water Polo struggles in its initial stretch


Ada Ip

Senior Pauleen Bajwa passes the ball after saving a goal.

Despite senior Nava Majlesi’s leadership efforts, the Wildcats start their new season under a new coach in a rough stretch. Their first two home games against mighty Carondelet and inconsistent Castro Valley both resulted in losses due to a lack of communication among the team members.

Head Coach Matt Denham debuts as a Wildcat coach on Wednesday, Aug. 29 in DV’s first game of the season against the Carondelet Cougars. Unfortunately, his first impression did not turn out the way he expected as the Wildcats suffered a blowout loss of 19-2.

Coach Denham has a very busy schedule since he coaches both the men’s and women’s team for DVHS water polo. Consequently, he immediately coached the men’s game against De La Salle after the women’s game.

Coach Matt brings a new perspective to the team with his new coaching style, and it’s also nice having Alexis on deck to help out,” said Majlesi.

Unfortunately, DV has no JV team for both boys and girls in water polo this season due to a lack of coaches. The athletic department was unable to hire a coach for the JV teams before the start of the 2018-19 fall season for the East Bay Athletic League (EBAL).

Despite these issues, the Wildcats played their first game against the Cougars under Head Coach Denham. The first period consisted of eight goals being scored by the Cougars as they successfully shredded DV’s defense early in the game. Carondelet junior Daniela Ortiz was especially off to an explosive start as she contributed three goals for the Cougars  despite DV senior goalkeeper Pauleen Bajwa’s valiant attempts to block many shots.

“They (Carondelet) have their own base. They have such a great foundation,” said Bajwa.

While the Carondelet offense continued to overpower the Wildcat defense, the crowd suddenly began to cheer when DV sophomore Witney Lam hammered a goal to the upper left of the net, putting  the Wildcats on the scoreboard. Even though the Cougars were already in a dominant lead, Wildcat fans still had some hope for a miraculous comeback.

For the entire second half, the Cougars continued to score until the last minute of the fourth period when Majlesi launched a goal from very deep at the line of scrimmage (half the pool). Regardless of the score, the Wildcat spirit was uplifted by this strong finish due to Majlesi’s iso-play (play executed by only one player).

Our ball work levels were nearly even, so I think that if we were faster, then we definitely would’ve done better,” said Majlesi.

In their second home game on Sept. 5 against the Castro Valley Trojans, the Wildcats powered themselves to a strong start in the first half. Lam continued to display her agility by beating the Trojan defenders to the ball and immediately throwing a dart into the goal. However, Trojan sophomore Amy Baggott successfully outplayed the Wildcat defense by scoring a goal along with an assist for another.

The second half started with a Trojan lead of 5-4. Both teams were still in the competition until the Trojans ran away with four unanswered goals. The DV team got frustrated as Majlesi attempted to call a variety of plays but was unable to execute them due to the solid Trojan defense. At this point, Wildcat fans were frustrated that the starters were not being substituted throughout the game. They emphasized that water polo is a  physically demanding sport, which was the reason why the starters appeared to be gassed out. As a result, Castro Valley continued to dominate until DV attempted a late comeback in the fourth period. Both Lam and freshman Zoe Ma scored late goals to end the game with a 13-8 Wildcat loss.

“Mainly drives were an issue that game, which is basically a way to get open and shoot. So just being able to move and get open,” said junior captain Nicole Hoyer.

Despite the early questions raised in Coach Denham’s debut season, the Wildcats remain optimistic to earn their first win during their upcoming games.

For the team, I would really like to win some games this season because we put so much work into this sport, and sometimes it gets discouraging to not see it pay off,” said Majlesi.

The Wildcats will prepare to play in a home league game against the Monte Vista Mustangs on Oct. 11.