Annie Robinson, Kellen Carlson and Mariam Obaiah have enjoyed numerous victories as members of the Greenwich High School girls water polo team over the past three years and the senior captains figure to help the squad register plenty more this spring.
Knowing they have a pool full of both experienced and untested talent, the Cardinals have once again set the bar high for themselves this season.
“I think we are going to do really well,” said Robinson, who led the squad in scoring last season. “We have a lot more experienced players than we had in the past and we gained some new freshman that will make a big difference to our team.”
Water polo has meant a lot to each captain, who are all determined to ignite the team to a very successful season.
Like Robinson, Carlson is beginning her fourth season on the squad. Her older sister Porter was also a water polo captain and her older brother also played the sport at GHS.
“It has been a huge part of my family,” Carlson said. “I am the baby in the family, so this is the last year my family gets to come and watch our games. It has really helped bring us together as a family.”
Greenwich’s tri-captains are indeed, dedicated to the sport. Besides playing water polo at Greenwich High, they also hone their skills for their respective club teams. Robinson also competes for Greenwich Aquatics, while Carlson and Obaiah each play for Chelsea Piers Connecticut.
“Our team is really close and we all rely on each other to get better,” Obaiah said. “We’ve worked toward improving our chemistry each year and each year we get better at executing our strategies and improving our skill set.”
Said GHS coach Paul Constanin: “I am happy about the direction of the program. We have quite a good number of girls trying out with good quality. I would like to see the program continue to grow quality-wise.”
Greenwich hosts Chelsea Piers Aquatic Club in a scrimmage on Thursday, then plays visiting Greenwich Aquatics on March 29. Rival Greenwich Academy, which edged the Cardinals last season, visits GHS on April 3.
Here’s a look at this season’s Cardinals.
AT THE HELM: Constantin begins his third season as coach of the Cardinals. Greenwich went 12-3 in his first season at the helm and 9-5-1 a year ago.
“Last season was a strong season for us, we played a lot of good teams and had some good games against challenging teams,” Constantin said.
WHO’S GONE?: Captains Ella Jomo, Grace Leigh and Sammy Bear each graduated from last season’s formidable squad.
WHO’S BACK?: Robinson, who was selected to play on the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team last summer, is a difficult player to defend. She had a wealth of big games offensively last season, including a team-high eight-goal performance in the Cards’ 13-8 Senior Day win over Hopkins School.
“Annie is a really good all-around player, who could play at different positions in the water,” Constantin said.
Carlson is an impressive wing player, with outstanding swimming ability who has a quick perimeter shot. Obaiah is also a versatile player who should help spark the squad defensively.
Sophomores Kaila Carroll and Charlotte Hallisey are coming off freshman seasons that saw them each make significant contributions on both ends of the pool. Senior Julia Merrill and junior Barbara Malone provide offensive depth and twin sisters Payton and Kate Turkeltaub (sophomores) also return.
Goalies Ainsleigh Winget and Liz Cassidy are also among some of the returning players.
“We have been working on improving our speed in the water and on our communication and chemistry,” Obaiah said. “It’s important for us to know who to pass to and where one another is going to be at a certain time.”
GOALS: “We want to beat Greenwich Academy and I hope we give Greenwich Aquatics a good game,” Robinson said. “We definitely have a chance this year.”
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: “We want to communicate well and come together as a team, hopefully we can do that,” Carlson said. “It’s important for us to get our inexperienced players to improve a lot. We want them to know the game, so they can come back next year and with confidence and become leaders themselves.”
SHOWDOWNS: Greenwich Aquatics (home, March 29), Greenwich Academy (home, April 3), Staples (home, April 6), Hopkins (away, April 26), Greenwich Academy (YMCA of Greenwich, May 4). Greenwich hosts its annual Cardinal Tournament on May 12.
“It’s amazing to see that every year girls water polo is growing,” Constantin said. “There are a lot of good teams out there now, so hopefully, we can beat our record from last year.”