Charlie Clark, John Caruso, Spencer Plavoukos and Thomas Hoffmeister began their respective high school water polo careers as freshmen in 2016 and today, they have the distinction of being the first group of captains that will have spent four seasons on Greenwich’s varsity A team.
“This is the 45th season of the program, so to be the first set of captains to do that is very impressive,” Cardinals water polo coach Paul Ramaley said. “They are a strong, experienced group.”
The foursome contributed to Greenwich’s 26-4 2018 season that concluded with a first-place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Championships. They figure to once again, spark the Cardinals, who are determined to continue their successful tradition, which has spanned more than four decades.
“Growing up here in Greenwich, I’ve learned so much about the Greenwich High School water polo program,” said Caruso, a senior. “I’ve seen my buddies in front of me become captains and being a captain on this team now is an honor.”
Said Hoffmeister: “This is a great team with a lot of depth and as captains, we are ready for our leadership position, having been on the team for four years. Being a part of the team four years has been special.”
Greenwich opens its season at Army on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. and takes on Staples in its home-opener Sept. 12. As usual, the Cardinals will compete in a number of tournaments throughout the season, two of which are the Battle of the Beltways at the United States Naval Academy and the Beast of the East in Reading, Pa.
“We feel like we can go down to Navy and do well and that we can be successful in all those tournaments,” said Clark, a senior. “We have a really good deep, with a lot of depth, that’s led by mostly seniors and juniors.”
AT THE HELM: Ramaley is beginning his third season as coach of the Cardinals. He played the sport while he was a student at Greenwich under legendary coach Terry Lowe, who founded the program. Ramaley coached the Cardinals to a record of 26-4 last season, with the team losing to just two teams. Brunswick dealt Greenwich three of its losses and the Cards lost one other game at a tournament in California.
WHO’S GONE?: Kyle Laufenberg, Niki de la Sierra and Tegan D’Agostino, all of whom served as captains, were among the seven players who graduated from last season’s squad. Laufenberg was the starting goalie, while de la Sierra and D’Agostino each helped ignite the Cards offensively. Daniel McDermott, who also aided the Cardinals’ offensive output, was also among some of the graduates.
POSITIONS: Caruso returns at the hole set position and is one of the Cardinals’ top defenders. Clark is a versatile utility player, while Hoffmeister brings effective perimeter shooting, along with solid defensive skills.
Plavoukos, a senior, will also be relied upon to make shots from the perimeter and help guide the team’s defensive play. Junior Manuel Pemberthy, who emerged as the Cardinals’ leading scorer last fall, totaling more than 50 goals, should once again, be difficult to defend. Jack Bruce, a junior, is a strong shooter from the left wing, while junior Tom Cass returns as one of the squad’s prime defenders.
Juniors Jack Holl and Filip Norell each play the hole set position. Senior Eric Ducret begins his first season as Greenwich’s starting goalie, after Laufenberg manned the position in previous seasons. Seniors Alex Hanna and JT Ruiz are senior attackers, while sophomore Dado Soares brings shooting/offense to the left wing.
Logan Barnett (senior), Mick Dilascia (sophomore), Devin Freedman (sophomore) and Dawson Clark (junior) round out the squad.
STRENGTHS: Speed is one of the Cards’ assets.
“We always do a time trial during evaluations and we say varsity guys should be around 55 seconds in the 100 freestyle,” Ramaley said. “We had 12 guys swim under 55, which is like a swim season, it’s really fast. That is going to be our game — speed.”
Added Caruso: “I feel like we’re a very diverse team with a very deep bench. Anybody can go in and perform at the same level.”
Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for GHS.
“We have Manuel back and everyone can shoot on this team, which is important,” Clark said.
SHOWDOWNS: Sept. 14-15, Battle of the Beltways at Naval Academy; Greenwich Aquatics, Sept. 18, home; Beast of the East, Sept. 27-28, Cardinal Tournament, Oct. 11-12, home; Steve Pal Tournament, Orange County, Calif., Oct.19-20; Annapolis Classic, Oct. 20-21; Brunswick School, Oct. 25, away; Chelsea Piers, Nov. 7, away; Mid-Atlantic Championships, Nov. 16-17, at Naval Academy.
“We are hoping to start out the season strong at the Navy tournament and take it from there,” Plavoukos said. “We have new sophomores and a lot of juniors, who have gotten better and we are looking to have a really good record again.”
DID YOU KNOW?: Laufenberg is playing water polo at Iona College. … de la Sierra is competing on the water polo team at Bucknell. … D’Agostino is playing at Fordham and McDermott has joined the team at Brown.