In the realm of sports, whether you are a fan or an athlete, the desire for a national title is always lingering. The same can be said for Oregon’s club water polo team this season, which earned its spot to play at Nationals as the 10th seed in Corvallis this weekend.
“We set the precedent every year that we are the team to beat in the Northwest,” junior captain Harrison Tingler said. “We just make it our goal every year to make it to Nationals and we have a pretty good chance this year to make it far.” Tingler, a Southern California native, is the main offensive threat for the team.
“We have an all-star in Harrison Tingler,” senior Matt Stang said. “He is by far our best scorer.”
Last year the undefeated team faced a frustrating loss in the first round at Nationals in Atlanta and ultimately finished in tenth place. Traveling to the East Coast was difficult for the team, and they could not bring their full roster. The squad’s disappointment last year led to their motivation for a successful season and a bid at Nationals.
“We definitely improved a lot this season. We are really confident going into Nationals. We lost four starters from last year, but we have gotten stronger, faster, and have a good solid defense,” Tingler said.
Tingler credits sophomore goalie Christian Broom for much of the team’s defensive success this season. “He is the best goalie in the conference and has really stepped up in a leadership role,” Tingler said.
The team’s goal on defense each game is to tire their opponent out by making sure even if they get a shot off it was a difficult one. They take advantage of their endurance to make sure their opponent never rests.
“We got lucky with a lot of young players who really know the game. We have depth and can sub in without anyone being a liability. The contribution from the young players have really helped,” said Broom.
The Ducks head into nationals with an 8-0 record within their conference and 11-0 overall. The team beat Oregon State 12-8 in their conference championship thanks to a strong defensive performance, which guaranteed them a spot to compete at Nationals.
“This year’s team has a lot more positivity than the teams in past years. We have tried to promote congratulating teammates no matter what. This has affected the team a lot. There’s great team chemistry,” said Stang.
In the first round at Nationals the Ducks will face Texas on Nov. 9. The Longhorns are coming into Nationals also with an undefeated record and should be tough competition for the Ducks. “It would be awesome to beat Texas, and the timing for this game is perfect because we are playing close in Corvallis and at a pool we already know,” said Tingler.
If the Ducks advance, they will most likely face Dartmouth in the second round. Although it is hard to not look ahead, the team says they take each game one at a time. “It would be awesome to win nationals. We have worked really hard all year and we are fired up … It would certainly be a wild celebration,” said Tingler.