The Pitman varsity girls’ water polo team made a splash in the Central California Conference last year after contesting for a postseason berth in a tight race near the end that eventually resulted in a third place finish for the team.
In her first season, head coach Erica Crain, along with her loaded roster of nine seniors, went on to lead the team into a winning record while catching the attention of many in the CCC.
“I think we are pretty good for the most part but the biggest thing is building off last year and me knowing what we got and we stand and its easier than starting off from nothing,” said Crain. “It's the same coach, they know who I am and know what to expect. It’s exciting.”
At 6-4, the Pride tied Merced for third place in league while Turlock was ahead a game, although it was the Pride who got the better of their crosstown rivals in the 2015 regular season finale.
“I believe we did really well last year for what we started with. We ended a lot better than when we began, but that is what was expected,” said Crain.
Pitman went on to win the game against Turlock in a 9-6 final back on Oct. 29, 2015, at the Pride's pool, ending the year with a 4-1 record down the second half stretch of league play.
After the game ended, Crain said goodbye to essentially the majority of her team, except for two standouts.
“I am going to have a lot of new varsity girls. I won't say it’s rebuilding because I do expect a lot from my upcoming juniors girls,” said Crain. “But I definitely will say we are going to be a younger group of girls that haven't played at the varsity level, but we will see how they do.”
The juniors coming up were part of a JV girls’ polo team that tied for first place in the CCC.
That group of girls will come on board with Samantha Guerino and Audrey Morgan, who are the top returners for coach Crain.
“I expect a lot from them,” said Crain of Guerino and Morgan. “They play summer polo and do it all, so it should be easier for them. I expect big things from them two.”
Along with the two senior leaders will be junior Hannah Bettencourt-Pimentel.
It will also help that Crain has a year under her belt.
“It’s a little early so just going off last year, I don't know what to expect just yet but we will see,” said Crain. “Now that I have that year in and they have been successful at some level, they know what is expected and they know how to play when they get here.”
The goal coming in will be a rugged road but attainable says Crain.
“I would love to see my girls place top two in the CCC and see our girls make Sections... I would love it,” she added. “If they work hard and put everything they got into it, I think it’s a possibility but again it’s with the effort they put in. What they put in is what they will get out of it.”
The first game for Pitman will be a scrimmage against Johansen at a time yet to be announced on Sept. 5.