Girls Water Polo Season Preview


Julia Ragno (’22) fires a shot against rival Gunn last season. Ragno will look to be one of the senior leaders on a young team this year.

Despite a shortened spring season due to COVID-19, Paly girls varsity water polo is coming into their fall games with high spirits. They ended last year with a 8-6 league record, finishing fourth, and were undefeated against non-league teams. They achieved this through an outstanding varsity lineup led by a majority of seniors. 

However, this fall, eleven seniors, five of whom were on said starting lineup, will not be returning. On top of that, half of their expected varsity starters are suffering from injuries and are uncertain of when they will be able to play. 

“The biggest challenge is the newer players don’t have experience playing on a varsity team,” current senior Aanya Kumar said. 

However, despite this deficit, she is still hopeful and excited. Practicing nearly every day for two hours, members of the team noted how hard their coach, Deke Rowell, has been pushing them to succeed. Although this workload may lead to lower spirits for some athletes, for the water polo team, it has boosted them. 

“Before the season started, seniors were nervous but I think we all have more confidence in our team’s performance now,” Kumar said, “[T]he sophomores and juniors that just got up are improving a lot so the future of the team is looking pretty good.” 

Others on the team have been ruminating on where some of these potential performances could lead, and what that future will look like. Senior Julia Ragno envisions Paly girls’ water polo “going all the way,” something they didn’t have the opportunity to do last year due to the pandemic. 

“I am looking forward to having a regular season with leagues and CCS,” Ragno said. 

Along with high hopes of attending section finals, the team is also anxious to compete again against rivals Los Gatos and Gunn. They are looking for redemption after losing 7-3 and 8-4, respectively, last season. 

With this year’s starting goalie Mary Henderson (‘24), and returning varsity Paige Henry (‘23), Yasmin Friedrichowitz (‘23), Milla Cleveringa (‘23), Julia Ragno (‘22), Sophia Henderson (‘22), and Aanya Kumar (‘22), along with a strong, but new, group of underclassmen, the team is confident they will be able to defeat Gatos, Gunn, and any other team that they compete against. 

Ragno sums up the water polo predicament succinctly but optimistically, accepting both the drawbacks and positives that come with losing an impactful senior class. 

“We have a very young team this year,” Ragno said, “With that being said, this is definitely a transition year, but [I] think it will be a great learning and growing opportunity for the whole team.”