There will be many opportunities for newcomers to step into the void created by the departure of Caltech's first and third leading goal scorers from last year. Caltech lost a lot of firepower from the 2011 Men's Water Polo team. The team returns only 67 of the 200 goals, scored by four different players.
After three consecutive stellar seasons which included an honorable mention All-American award by the Association for Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC), Jack Blackwood will be looking to lead the Caltech men's water polo team in his final season on campus.
Blackwood has led the conference in scoring the past two seasons and will be counted on heavily as the team's offensive center. He was the team's second leading goal scorer with 46 goals. Head Coach Josh Moser said, "Jack is one of the best centers in Division III. He is going to be expected to carry the team."
Thomas Kwong will join Blackwood as the main attacking force. Kwong is the team's second highest returning goal scorer with 10 goals. Kwong was also second on the team in assists last season with 22.
"Tommy has been starting all four years, he is the fastest guy coming back. He will be counted on to take pressure off of Jack. He touches the ball every time down, and our offense is going to run through him this season," said Moser.
Brian Penserini is the third leading returning goal producer, after tallying nine in 2011. The dual-sport athlete came on late in his first season in the pool scoring five goals in his last four regular season games. Penserini is a pitcher and catcher with the baseball team.
"Brian is a great shooter, he has a gun for an arm, and he is going to have a great opportunity to step up this season."
The team will also welcome in some talented freshman, Patric Eck and Jack Blackwood's brother, Jim. Eck was a CIF finalist in swimming in high school while also a four-time member of an undefeated league water polo champion. The younger Blackwood was a three time all-Bay league selection and a three time All-CIF honoree in water polo.
"They are going to be our two strongest first years. It remains to be seen where they will fit positionally, and how many minutes each will play," said Moser. "However, there is definitely the opportunity for them to come in and contribute immediately."
The team will be anchored in the back by returning goaltender Ben Grabowski. Grabowski took over the starting spot last season and posted 149 saves in his first year on campus.
"Last year, Ben won the competition for his position. He improved throughout the season, and I expect that to continue. No one works harder than him."
The team lost a lot of offensive firepower due to graduation, but the most significant loss may be losing Dan Sexton as a center defender. Coach Moser said, "Tim McDonald will take on that responsibility as the center defender. He plays a different style than Dan, so the team will have to adjust, because half court defense will be very important to our success."
The team will be very young with only four seniors and no juniors on the roster. The team also returns only two players who scored double-digit goals last year. "They do not have the experience of last year's team, but everybody will have the opportunity to step up and make a contribution. We are looking to make a run in the second half of the season once our players have had some more time playing together," said Moser.