Friday, February 03, 2023


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Sports Article
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Water Polo Teams Start Season Undefeated
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            As ninth graders on Upper Perkiomen's water polo team, Bailey McCausland and Madison Modugno spent most of the season learning the sport. The girls focused

Upper Perk captain Bailey McCausland fires off a shot

in the tournament game against Springfield on Saturday.

on the fundamentals, including passing shooting and spacing the pool, and won only one game, according to Modugno.

            The results didn't seem to matter, according to McCausland. She recalled an assistant coach standing on the pool deck encouraging the girls to work for the future.

            "He said, 'We're working towards you senior year,'" McCausland said. "'Who cares what happens?'"

            Four seasons later, that perseverance is paying off. The Indians started the current season 3-0, including a pair of victories over Reading (13-2) and Springfield-Montco. (17-3) on Saturday in the Upper Perkiomen Indian Invite Tournament.

            The team moved well, passed well and shot well while avoiding foul trouble, according to head coach Brien Kalnoski.

            "We've been building to this for four years," Kalnoski said. "The seniors have been tremendous."

            Upper Perkiomen's boys water polo team went 3-0 during the annual tournament to improve to 4-0 overall. It posted victories over Reading (12-8), Wyoming Valley West (11-2) and Springfield-Montco. (17-3).

            "The team's start has been excellent," the coach said.

            "The whole team played well," said Kyle Kovalenko, the team's only senior.

            Both teams are scheduled to resume their season Thursday at home against Reading.

            Though the girls team has only one substitute, the presence of competitive swimmers McCausland, Modugno and classmate Erin Dunphy, as well as freshman Darragh Martin provide speed in the water, according to the coach. He said seniors Lotte Kastelein and Faith Kilbride add invaluable experience in front of goalkeeper Abigail Foreman, a junior. Caitlin McKelvy, a sophomore Makalya Jones round out the roster.

            "Our team is playing so well this season because a majority of us have been playing for the past four years and have been working really hard to get where we are," wrote Kilbride, one of three captains with McCausland and Modugno. "Our newer players have been practicing hard and have been showing real potential."

             During the 2015 season, the team – made up mostly of ninth graders – didn't have any skills or knowledge of the game, according to Kilbride. During the first game that season, Modugno said the freshmen didn't know how to run a play.

            "We were a hot mess," McCausland said. "We were all excited just to get in the pool and play."

            When the Indians defeated Exeter early in the following season, the players believed they could eventually live up to the expectations set by the coaching staff, according to McCausland.

            "Everyone was so happy," she said. "We worked together as a team, and we were motivated to keep working hard."

            According to Kilbride, the team will do its best to maintain the undefeated record. All three captains said they expect to compete for a newly created small school state championship.

            On Saturday, the boys team received solid contributions from juniors Trevor Cairns, Joseph McGillen and goalkeeper Zach Fetchen, according to Kalnoski. He said the team will rely on a 12-member team, the largest group in five years, to remain competitive.

            "To start the season like this truly amazing," said Kyle Kovalenko, the team's only senior. "We worked so hard to have a good start."

            According to Kovalenko, having several swimmers on the team – which includes himself along with Cairns, McGillen, Sean Lyman and his brother Kevin Kovalenko – has helped the Indians excel.

            "Being able to swim fast in the pool greatly benefits you and the team," Kyle Kovalenko said. "It allows you to move faster with the ball, and you are more likely to score."






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