May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran moves up to No. 3 in CIF Division 7 rankings and eyes playoffs

Crean Lutheran freshman Tate Fitzgerald gets ready to take a shot. (Photos courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs/Wendy Rueter, For OC Sports Zone)

Right from the start, Crean Lutheran’s boys water polo team has made significant strides this season and this week moved up to a No. 3 ranking in the CIF Division 7 poll.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

The team, led by first year coach Millicent Powell, is trying to secure its first CIF playoff berth with a couple weeks left in the regular season.

“It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to become the head coach,” Powell said. “My top players this season are senior Joey Schell, freshman Tate Fitzgerald, senior Jackson Perry and senior Thomas Fitt. The team captains are Thomas Fitt and Joey Schell.

“Thomas and Joey are the heart behind the team. They care so much for their fellow teammates and are always teaching the younger players about how to become competitors and are excellent examples of good sportsmanship. Joey is also being recruited to play in college and is always committed to being a good example of being humble and a positive role model for the younger players.”

The team started with just six returning players on the roster. 

“Since then we have had three freshmen join to complete the roster of 12,” Powell said. “With so many new players and only four upperclassmen, we set goals for our team.”

Those goals included winning more games than in previous years (three), “become a team who supports one another” and try and qualify for the CIF playoffs, Powell said.

“Our first games of the season showed that we had promise as we won two games in two days,” Powell said. “The following week we won another game against Lakewood. With three wins within our first five games it was a sign that our team had real potential to contend within our division.”

Many players have stepped up, Powell said.

“Our freshmen Tate Fitzgerald and Ryan Goldstone as well as sophomores Austing Griffin (goalie), Blaise Tommisian and Nathan Treglia began to establish themselves as integral players in our game plans. They worked hard to make up for their inexperience, constantly asking questions and leaning on the experience of their upperclassmen. On a team so small, they learned how to support each other and depend on one another.”

Junior Antonio Moschetti has also been a major contributor, Powell said.

The squad was on the CIF Division 7 watchlist at the start of the season and eventually rose to the No. 3 spot, where it is this week. 

“Each game has shown growth in our team,” Powell said. “This weekend we will be fighting to keep our winning record at a Division 7 tournament. If we can win over half our games this season, then we will be able to reach our goal of qualifying for CIF (playoffs).”  

Each team at Crean Lutheran selects a Bible Verse and the water polo squad’s verse was selected by Schell: “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

“This bible verse was selected because we as a team want to focus on how we can conduct ourselves in a positive way on the pool deck,” Powell said. “Too often we feel that athletics can bring out the boastful, angry, and prideful parts of people. This verse helps to remind us to direct our emotions more towards acting humbly during victories, show mercy to our competitors, and act justly when the decision to do so isn’t always easy.”