PASADENA — The University of La Verne women's water polo team had one of the best seasons in school history and the SCIAC coaches have noticed.
The coaches voted Guarina Garcia and Stephanie Rosero to First Team All-SCIAC and the Leopards' coaches led by head coach William Rodriguez were named the Coaching Staff of the Year, the SCIAC announced on Friday. Garcia was also tabbed the Newcomer of the Year.
In addition, senior Kendra New was named to the Sportsmanship Team.
Garcia and Rosero made an immediate impact, leading the Leopards to the SCIAC Championship Game for the first time in program history. Behind the duo, the Leopards broke years-long losing streaks against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands, and notched six wins against upper-division opponents.
Garcia, a freshman from Puerto Rico, scored a team-high 63 goals this season and was the only freshman selected to the all-conference squad. She gave the team a new dimension with her athleticism and speed. "Guarina is, without a doubt, one of the most promising freshman athletes in La Verne history," Rodriguez said. "Her potential is unlimited."
Rosero, a junior transfer who was coming off a seven-year hiatus from playing water polo, was right behind Garcia in goals scored with 62 and provided the Leopards with steady guidance unusual from a newcomer. "Stephanie is the most dominant athlete in our conference today," Rodriguez said. "Her performance this year was nothing short of spectacular."
In just his second season as head coach, Rodriguez has turned the Leopards into a championship contender. In Rodriguez's first season, La Verne earned its first wins over Cal Lutheran and Occidental in nearly a decade and notched five SCIAC wins for the first time in recent memory up until that point. The Leopards shattered expectations once again this season and came within inches of their first SCIAC championship.