By Steve Breazeale
As the reigning five-time South Coast League champions, the San Clemente girls water polo team will attempt to make it a sixth consecutive league title this season with a relatively young roster full of underclassmen.
With 10 former starters gone to graduation and only one returning, head coach Logan Powell has spent the offseason attempting to get a brand new roster all on the same page.
Two key players returning to the lineup will be junior driver and team captain Brigette Kimbrough and sophomore utility Cassidy Smithson. Kimbrough was an effective bench player for the Tritons last season while Smithson saw starting time as a freshman.
The team will only field two seniors in June Huston and Amanda Giannelli, both of whom split time on varsity and junior varsity last season.
With a lack of senior presence, something the team had plenty of last year, the door is open for Powell’s younger players to establish themselves on the Triton depth charts.
Powell pegged freshman center Amber McCutcheon as a new player to watch heading into the season. McCutcheon comes to San Clemente after playing at the club level for the past several years, which Powell believes gives her an edge.
“(McCutcheon) is still young but she knows the game really well…She’s a strong player and a lot of our offense will depend on her,” Powell said.
If the Tritons want to repeat as South Coast League champions for the sixth time in a row, they will have to go through perennial league rival El Toro. The two teams are set to square off on January 3.
Until then, the new-look Tritons will have to focus on the present, as they open their season December 6 on the road at the Villa Park Classic tournament.