FORT WASHINGTON -- For most students, the summer is a time traditionally reserved for taking a break from the rigors of school, possibly enjoy some traveling and mentally preparing for the upcoming year. This summer, Asher Sasson '23, Andrew Thompson '25, Rachel Khavinson '24, Katie Martin '25 and Nicholas O'Hara '24 got to travel, but for the purpose of club-level competition in the Junior Olympic Tournament for their respective Mavericks Water Polo teams.
"Playing in the Junior Olympic tournament is one of the best opportunities you can have to grow as a water polo player," Head Boys and Girls Water Polo Coach Mike Koziol said. "Athletes play anywhere from seven to nine games over the course of four days and get to test their skill against the best teams from across the country. You cannot help but learn quickly when playing so much great water polo in such a short period of time and players usually come back from the tournament more confident and skilled."
Koziol also had the privilege of coaching the 16U girls team that featured Khavinson and Martin. The group went 3-5 overall, finishing 18th overall in the Silver Bracket of the tournament. According to Koziol, Khavinson was "one of the major contributors on the most successful Maverick team this summer." He also had high praises for Martin, saying that she has made incredible strides in just 14 months of playing the sport, and that she will be "looked on to take a major step forward for the school team this fall."
"It was amazing to see the way that Rachel and Katie were able to put the things that we have been working on with the school and club teams throughout our summer practices into game situations," Koziol said. "More importantly, the GA girls and their teammates did an amazing job of bonding through the successes and adversity that we faced over the course of the week and became a better team in the process."
Sasson competed with Maverick Water Polo’s 18U team in the Classic Division of the Junior Olympic Tournament in California. After dropping the first two games on Day One, Sasson played a key role in the team’s 5-game win streak to work its way back up within their bracket. Sasson's team finished 6th in the Bronze Bracket, going 5-4 overall. Koziol noted that Sasson brought his "trademark keen eye for passing," and "a knack for finishing 5 meters to the team."
Thompson played a key role on the Maverick Water Polo 16U team in the Classic Division of the Junior Olympic Tournament in California. The 16U squad had the biggest upset of the tournament, sinking perennial California powerhouse Corona Del Mar in a shootout in their opening game. According to Koziol, Thompson’s shootout goal set the tone for the team’s eventual win. The team finished 5th in the Bronze Bracket, going 5-4 overall.
"Andrew was one of the most consistent offensive forces over the course of the tournament for his 16U squad," Koziol said. "He initiated counter-attacks and did an excellent job of using his speed to open up scoring chances for his team."
O'Hara also had a stellar offensive outing and was one of the leading scorers for the Maverick 16U B team that wrapped up play in Dallas on July 31. His team finished in 11th place in the Platinum bracket of the Invitational Division of the tournament, going 4-3 overall. Koziol said that O'Hara brings energy, speed, and a knack for the goal every time he hits the pool, and that he was "an instant spark plug" for his team this summer.
Koziol and the Patriots will look to carry the momentum into the 2022 seasons, which will begin with preseason on August 22.