By GAURAV VERMA
Expectations are high for the Hopkins water polo team as they enter the 2015 season. After finishing the year No. 6 overall in the East, the Jays open the season ranked No. 4 in the pre-season Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) poll, their highest ranking in recent years as well as holding the No. 3 spot in D-III after finishing the past season ranked second.
In goal, the team returns senior starter Erik Henrikson as well as sophomore backup John Wilson. On attack, senior Langdon Froomer returns to lead the Jays offense.
Last season, Froomer led the team in assists with 34 and finished third in goals, good for a spot on the honorable mention All-America team as determined by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC).
The team also returns 30-goal scorers junior Matt Fraser and Rookie of the Year sophomore Jono Gillette. On defense the team returns senior Garrett Davidson as well as junior Giovanni Cragnotti. The team also welcomes a five-man freshman class who will hopefully contribute positively to the team this season.
The team did suffer a pair of major losses due to the graduation of seniors and co-captains Johnny Beal and Wes Hopkins, who were the team’s leading scorers last season. Both players were named first-team All-Americans, and their presence will certainly be missed. The team will rely on the trio of Froomer, Fraser and Gillette to make up for the lost offense stemming from the loss of Hopkins and Beal who combined for 99 goals and 151 total points last season.
The two concluded their decorative careers ranked third and fourth all-time in school history in points, and their offense and leadership will both need to be replaced for the Jays to have a successful season.
Froomer said that some of the most successful takeaways from last season were “[Knocking] off some big teams last year, including Princeton and Navy at home.” He added, “It was big for us to perform against the top teams.” On the more constructive side, Froomer said, “We need to do a better job of finishing games.” He noted that the team “Worked a lot in preseason on burying teams when we’re in front”, adding, “This is crucial for us.”
Fraser said that he saw last season as a success and said that moving forward as a team returning a lot of players, “The most important thing that we can do is to improve from last season is making sure that the new players understand our system and that we take every game one at a time.”
As far as goals for the season, Froomer and Fraser both said that the team hopes to make it to the final game of Eastern Championships, with Fraser adding that they also want to win the D-III title. Froomer expressed optimism about reaching their goals, noting that although, “Expectations are high, this is a solid squad and we have the pieces to make a big run.”