ORANGE, Calif. – The 2019 Chapman University women's water polo team will jump into the pool for its first two contests of the season on Saturday at the Cal Baptist Mini. The Panthers were recently picked to finish sixth in the SCIAC in a poll of the conferences' coaches.
A youthful Panthers squad finished in fifth place in 2018 with a 6-8 record in the SCIAC, narrowly missing out on the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Now a year older, the 2019 Panthers' squad still features just four upper classmen and one senior. Sophomores make up half of the this year's roster with four freshmen looking to contribute.
The lone senior will start in goal for the Panthers. Alyssa Welfringer will put one the No. 1 cap for the first time in her career. She made nine starts as a junior, going 4-5 and posting 65 saves. Two underclassmen will await their opportunities throughout the season in sophomore Joanna Falla and freshman Marla Mirho.
All-SCIAC and All-American selection Audrey Hattori is back for her sophomore campaign after a successful rookie season. Hattori led the Panthers in points with 65 despite playing in only 22 matches. Her 35 goals ranked second on the team as did her 30 assists.
Offensively, the Panthers will need to replace two of their leading scores that combined for 70 goals a year ago. Ellie Peterson and Andi Sandoval scored 43 and 27 goals, respectively, with Sandoval also dishing out 36 assists. Junior Emily Whitney was the only other Panther to record at least 20 goals last year and will be back to carry some of the scoring load.
Whitney and fellow junior Argelia Diaz were two of only three Panthers to appear in all 27 contests last year as sophomores. As a young team last year, the Panthers gained invaluable experience to build on for this year and beyond. As freshman, Kylie Beloian and Paige Gurich appeared in over 20 matches each, combining for 17 goals and 10 assists. Despite being just sophomores, Beloian and Gurich return as two of the more experienced players on the roster alongside junior Alissa Caltagirone.
The Panthers also picked up two transfers, who will make their Chapman debuts on Saturday. Sophomore Lauren Dvonch and junior Roisin Cunningham Smythe join the team with hopes to contribute right away.
The Panthers open the season at Cal Baptist against Loyola Marymount and Concordia on Saturday. The Panthers will go on to play just three matches in February before entering a busy March and early April. Chapman's first home matches are an exhibition matchup with UC Irvine's club tub team on Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. and a match against the University of Toronto on Feb. 16 at 4 p.m.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director