Water Polo Season Preview
Troubadours Take on St. Mary’s Tuesday


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The St. Francis water polo team opens its 2014 season Tuesday against St. Mary’s of Stockton in what should be a challenging opener for the Troubadours. The two schools faced off last season two times, splitting the matches.

“It is a big challenge and a good test to see how we can work on the fly since it is our first game,” said senior Lauren Charter, who is among the top-returning scorers on the team. “It will be a good building block. I am happy that it is going to be a challenging game to start off our season and it will give us so much more to work off of and grow.”

St. Francis advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Finals in 2013 before losing to Davis in the first season under former Olympian and USA Water Polo Player of the Year Heather Moody. The Troubadours went 18-13 overall on the season.

Moody is excited for her second season leading the St. Francis program.

“I feel more prepared as a coach and understanding what we are heading into. I am more confident in myself as a coach,” said Moody. “We have a lot of returners so it feels like we already know each other. That is a positive. We have had a good approach to the first three weeks of training and getting ready to start.”

St. Francis scrimmaged on Saturday at St. Francis in Mountain View to make their final preparations for the season.

Moody will look to Charter and senior Hannah Milanowski for team leadership among a group of 10 returners to the varsity team.

“Hannah and Lauren are great,” said Moody of her captains. “They have a positive outlook on the sport and are pretty serious about being successful individually while focusing on making the sure the team is ready to go.”

Charter was a first-team all-section selection while scoring 28 goals last season. Junior Maggie Oys was named the team’s most valuable player on offense, tallying 44 points (28 goals, 16 assists). Both return for a team that graduated four of their top six scorers from last season.

Brinnley Barthels and Emily Reinl each scored a team-best tying 35 goals last season. Barthels will compete at Pacific this spring, while Reinl is competing on the cross country team. Along with Marisa Zanobini (18 goals) and Eileen Walsh (16 goals), the Troubadours will be looking for some new players to step into the goal-scoring roles.

“The way that I coach is with a system of play not necessary generated by a player,” said Moody. “Losing (a player like) Brinnley will definitely be big shoes to fill. But I am very confident of the crew we have in the pool to fill those. It is generating openings for whoever is in that open spot to step up and shoot and have the confidence to do it.”

The other returnees include seniors Annie Rafeld and Isabella Smith and juniors Jennalyn Barthels, Kira Chavez, Samantha Reinl, Alyssa Tambornini and Caroline Urkov. Transfer Madelyn Lavezzo joins sophomores Elizabeth Minor, Frances Barbour and Sally Ferguson for their first seasons on the varsity squad.

Overall, Moody says the work ethic of the squad will help them be successful this season.

“They work pretty hard,” said Moody. “They go for it and they like to have fun. They find some fun in the pain of training day in day out. They laugh at themselves and with their teammates.”

The fun starts Tuesday with the junior varsity team taking on St. Mary’s at 4 p.m. at Jesuit followed by the varsity game at 8 p.m.

“It will be a very good matchup for us,” said Moody. “It is a big game to open the season with.”

Head Coach: Heather Moody (2nd season)

Assistant Coach: Anne Scott (4th season)

Captains: Lauren Charter and Hannah Milanowski

St. Francis Varsity Water Polo Team:

Seniors (4): Lauren Charter, Hannah Milanowski, Annie Rafeld, Isabella Smith

Juniors (9): Jennalyn Barthels, Kira Chavez, Maggie Oys, Madelyn Lavezzo, Elizabeth Minor, Samantha Reinl, Alyssa Tambornini, Caroline Urkov, Julie Zanobini

Sophomores (2): Frances Barbour, Sally Ferguson