The Ontario University Athletics championships began with a disappointing loss for the Western Mustangs water polo team in Kingston. But they rallied behind head coach Bill Terzis for their second and last game of the weekend to come out with a decisive win to end the season finishing fifth overall.
The season was short for the water polo team, having only played one tournament prior to the OUAs. But they were still able to come together and play as a team.
"We grew a lot," said team captain Dan Lilko. “We started off by playing individual water polo but by the end of the season [final game of OUAs] we were playing a congruent game.”
According to veteran team member Jovan Latkovic, the team cohesion is a huge part of the Mustangs' success as the squad has become more familiar with each other season after season.
"The year was phenomenal," he said. "Comparing to previous years it just keeps on getting better."
In the first game of the OUAs this team cohesion wasn’t apparent. After the referees ejected Lilko at the start of the second quarter due to a miscommunication, the team struggled to come back from that. Before this penalty the Mustangs were trading goals back and forth with the Marauders. The penalty demoralized the team, and the final score was 15–4 in favour of the Marauders. The loss seemed to have been quite a wakeup call for the team.
After the game, Coach Terzis discussed how the team would have one last game to play together over dinner in Kingston, which resonated deeply with the team.
The final game of the tournament was against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, and for the Mustangs it was all about playing for each other in their last game together. The Mustangs won the game 16–6.
According to Latkovic, the team was also focused on accomplishing something this season. The team didn’t want to go winless at the OUAs and wanted to see results for all the hours of practice they had put in.
The team is optimistic about their potential for the future. The program is growing and building every year. For them, it is all about day-to-day, year-to-year improvement.
"It’s looking pretty prosperous, and there’s more and more people coming in every year,” said Latkovic. "The team’s got a really good core. Many of the players that were on our travelling team were new."
All in all, the weekend marked the coming together of the team through a short season. The team generally sees this season as a success, though unfortunately tinted with the loss of their first OUA game. Their decisive win in the second day redeemed the season for the team.
"It was a great way to end the season," said Lilko. "It was a great way to go out.”