The first half of the season didn’t go according to plan for the Emerald Ridge Jaguars’ boys water polo team.
The Jaguars (5-10 overall, 3-2 league) will have to go through the wild-card round in order to advance to the South Sound water polo state tournament next month, coach James McMullan said.
The top two teams from each league earn automatic bids, but it will be difficult for Emerald Ridge to catch first-place Curtis or second-place Puyallup.
“We knew going into the season it was going to be a rough year because of us losing so many seniors from last year’s team,” McMullan said. “The guys are coming together, though, and are growing together.”
McMullan said upcoming games against Mark Morris and Rogers are must-win contests, not only with regard to the standings but for his team’s psyche.
“If we want to have a chance to play well in the wild-card round and get a berth to the state tournament later on, then we have to make sure we win those games,” he said. “Last year, we had great success down the stretch and made it to the state tournament because of it. If we can do that this year, it would be great for our team and great for the future of our team.”
McMullan said Scott Sanders is the anchor for the Jaguars. He’s been the team’s starting goalie for the past four years and has amassed 212 career blocks.
“Scott has just been doing a fantastic job for us,” McMullan said. “He always is there when we need him and is very reliable.”
Co-captain Brenden Nelson, who has 77 career goals, is just eight shy of breaking the school record. Jake Heckert scored 85 goals during his career.
“He has really shouldered the scoring load this year and has took the helm for our offense,” McMullan said. “We have a lot of younger players on the team, and he is our offensive leader.”