Despite a disappointing 2013 season, head coach Terry Stoddard and the Lancers water polo team expect a noticeable improvement to both the offense and defense since five sophomores will be returning for the upcoming season.

Entering his 16th season as head coach and director of the Lancers Aquatic Center, Stoddard will rely heavily on the production of his returning sophomores led by 2013 All-South Coast Conference First Team selection Stephanie Velasco.

“What’s in the past is in the past,” Stoddard said. “This year we have five returning sophomores and I’m sure with their competitiveness they want to begin the season with a win.”

The Lancers return four sophomores from last year’s team that finished last in the SCC. The biggest addition may be the return of sophomore driver Lisa Munoz who last played with the Lancers in 2010.

“Lisa has really brought a mature atmosphere to the team,” Stoddard said. “I’m really excited about her return and the ladies are excited to have a good year.”

With the addition of Munoz, opponents will have to think twice about how they will defend Velasco, who was the focus of many opponents’ defensive schemes last season.

“It’s nice having Lisa on this year’s team,” Velasco said. “Having someone like Lisa on the team is a huge advantage for us because she’s familiar with how we play and she doesn’t have to learn as much as the new players do. We have a lot more experience on the perimeter this year.”

The Lancers also return sophomore goalie Alenoush Aslanin, who led the Lancers last season with 129 saves.

“Alenoush Aslanin is our returning goalie and she has improved dramatically,” Stoddard added. “We’re in better shape starting out this season, whereas last season we had holes that needed to be filled.”

With the addition of Munoz, the Lancers are prepared to be a more balanced team on defense with an even better attack on offense, according to Stoddard.

“We don’t have to do as many things in the pool because we have a balanced defense and a balanced attack on offense,” Stoddard said. “We’re going to be focused on fundamentals.”

“As a team we just have to remain confident in our skills and our game,” Munoz added. “We’ve improved a lot [since training began], as far as our conditioning goes and we’ve improved a lot as far as teamwork because we’ve gotten to know each other a lot more. I think working together we’ll do well.”

The Lancers will travel to play East Los Angeles College on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in the season opener. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m.


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