The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
For the College of San Mateo women’s water polo team, the time has come to take care of business.
And with three league games remaining on the regular season schedule the Bulldogs find themselves in a position of control — and that’s a great place to be.
“The perspective is clear,” said CSM head coach Randy Wright, “what needs to happen is clear. And unlike other years, we are still in control of our destiny. But one thing is for sure, this team, it’s one game at a time.”
Last weekend during the Big 8/Coast Conference Crossover Tournament, the Bulldogs proved they know a little something about taking care of business. Going in, it was Wright’s goal for the team to win all four of their matches. And despite fatigue and early mental lapses, CSM accomplished its goal by going 4 for 4.
“I think the common theme on that Saturday was, taking care of business in the second half is not going to be the way to go when we start playing these last few games here,” Wright said. “You can only go to the well so many times before it comes back and bites you.”
CSM steamrolled Las Positas College and Sacramento City College in Games 1 and 2, outscoring them 29-2. Erica Staben led the way with nine goals. Jasmine Zaldivar added six scores. Miya Oto had five goals while Daria Kekuewa added 26 saves.
But Saturday was a different story. While they were both wins, the Bulldogs needed strong second half showing to pull off victories against Fresno (6-2) and Delta (7-6).
“We’re a small team,” Wright said. “When we play four games in two days, whether the games are hard or easy, whether the scores are close or not, it’s real taxing on my team. And by fourth game, the momentum, our speed, our pop, you can just see it — it looked flat. But this group, it’s a really gritty group. They grind. They want to win. They want to achieve.
“That’s the one thing we have going for us this year, we haven’t lost any of the big games that we have a chance to win,” Wright said. “We’ve been successful in the regard.”
CSM heads into the final three games of the Coast Conference schedule licking their wounds a bit after a 13-4 loss to Foothill. In that match, the Owls outscored the Bulldogs 8-1 in the second half and came away with a 13-4 win.
“They’re going to wear us down,” Wright said. “I think what I know and what the team learned is you cannot waste any opportunities against team like that. We had the ability to execute a very complex game plan — especially on defense. It really confused them. It bottled them up.”
CSM heads back to the pool Wednesday in a showdown against West Valley — a team that beat Cabrillo College (who best CSM). The Bulldogs own an early-season win against the Vikings, but as Wright put it, “when you play at West Valley, it’s always kind of a different team … you better come ready to play [Wednesday]. I don’t care what the scores were of what they looked like over this past weekend, you play West Valley at West Valley, it’s a different kind of game. We really have to take care of business.”
CSM follows that game with a rematch against Ohlone — a team they beat early in the season, too.
“They’re on a roll,” Wright said of Ohlone. “We’re expecting a much different look coming from Ohlone. That will be a very big home, conference game.
“We just have to keep taking care of business,” Wright said. “That will give us goal No. 1 which is to finish second or third in single-match play so we don’t match up with Foothill in semis of the conference finals.”