By Stephanie Guevara
The East Los Angeles College water polo team had a bounce back season, finishing fifth place in the South Coast Conference.
Water polo finished its season with an overall record of 6-14 and 5-5 in conference.
This was the team’s first season back at the Swim Stadium. Previously, the team had been practicing at the Belvedere Park pool and played away games the whole 2018 season.
Water polo head coach Diana Romero said that the main reason why the team finished in fifth place was because they were back at the Swim Stadium.
“Being back at ELAC was a definite game changer because if it weren’t for us coming back, I don’t know where we would’ve been at Belvedere,” Romero said.
In the 2018 season, water polo finished with an overall record of 1-10 and 1-8 in conference. With this record, the team finished in seventh place.
“It wasn’t the most pleasant season, but coming in this year, we are like night and day,” Romero said.
The 2018 season was Romero’s first year coaching the water polo team. Romero had nine players for the team at the start of her first season. Romero said that the 2018 season was a learning experience for everyone.
“Last season we had no team. No one came back from the previous season. We had to start from scratch. When I got hired, I had no team and no pool,” Romero said.
Romero was born and raised in Commerce and attended Montebello High School.
This season the water polo team had 22 players at the start of the season.
The team finished in fifth place of their conference and won most of their games at home.
Romero said that playing at home made a difference because the team had support from their community.
One of the team’s biggest wins was against Rio Hondo College on Oct. 30. The team was losing by four points and they tied the game, forcing it to overtime. During overtime, ELAC won the game 15-14.
Romero said that the team had been playing bad and they suddenly awoke before the end.
“We were down by three or four against Rio Hondo. I was like ‘Oh my Gosh. You have got to be kidding me.’ We had spoke about what we had to do to stop them.
“For some reason or somehow they snapped and decided to start implementing what we worked on, what they were good at,” Romero said.
“We ended up going to overtime and we won.”
Romero said her plans for next season are to build a team around the returning players.
The water polo team had some notable players, such as freshman Julyeth Mutuc who lead the team in goals, scoring seven in the season.
Mutuc ended in fourth place in conference for most goals scored. She had a 63.3 shooting percentage during the season.
Romero said that the player are required to join the swim and dive team during the season to stay in condition for the next water polo season.
“You start losing your muscle mass like in a week or two weeks. If you don’t keep up with your condition, there goes all that hard work,” Romero said.