SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San José State men's water polo program wrapped up their 2016 season with a banquet honoring players and coaches on Wednesday night, December 7.
This season was just the men's water polo team's second year as a program since the program was revived in 2015 after a 34-year absence.
"This season was something special to be a part of," said San José State head coach Bruce Watson. "We handled a lot of adversity and we hung in there. Everybody improved individually and we improved as a team. We still have a lot of work to do but we are excited to build on what we have here."
Watson, who was an All-American water polo player at San José State in 1971 and 1972, announced the team awards during the banquet. The winners consisted of three freshman and two sophomores for a young Spartans team.
The 2016 team captains, Tyler Jamieson, who is the first senior for the revitalized program, and sophomore John Moon, were also honored.
"Leadership, direction and camaraderie are very important," said Watson. "These two guys brought these qualities to the team and they were two players we could all count on at any given time."
Freshman Finn Pardon, who tied fellow freshman Marc Weber for most goals on the team with 30, was named the team's offensive MVP. Pardon, a bruiser from Manhattan Beach, Calif., also led the team in ejections drawn (52) and shooting percentage among players who played in all 28 games (.441). He scored multiple goals in 10 games this season.
"Finn is somebody who helped establish our front court. He came up with some amazing shots and huge goals for us over the course of the season."
Ben Hauschild was named the team's defensive MVP. The freshman from Santa Barbara captured an Honorable Mention award from the Golden Coast Conference for his regular season play and finished third in the nation with 52 steals. He also added 29 goals and was third on the team with 40 points.
"Ben has a really good feel for the whole game. He's someone that led the conference in steals but also gets up and scores important goals for the team."
Rounding out the awards won by freshmen was Los Angeles-native Giacomo Lovatelli, who was named Most Improved Spartan. Lovatelli played in 24 games and scored four out of his season total six goals in the last three games of the season. He also added two assists and eight steals for the Spartans.
"Giacomo's game improved over the course of the season and he ended up becoming a really important part of the team."
Sophomore Cole Williams was named the team's most inspirational player for the 2016 season. Williams, a goalie from Stockton, Calif., saw action in 13 games and logged 180 minutes in the cage for the Spartans. He recorded 46 saves this season.
"Cole was always the first guy in the water. He kept everyone organized and did a lot of great things for us this season."
The "Ironman" award was given to sophomore Alek Dendall of Rocklin, Calif. Dendall played in all 28 games and logged 13 goals and 11 assists this season. His most valuable contribution was arguably his work ethic and hustle.
"Nobody worked harder than Alek. He got up and down the pool every day and the team could always count on him giving 100%."
The full list of the 2016 awards and team captains are listed below.
2016 MEN'S WATER POLO TEAM AWARDS
Offensive MVP: Finn Pardon (Fr., Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Defensive MVP: Ben Hauschild (Fr., Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Most Improved Spartan: Giacomo Lovatelli (Fr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
Most Inspirational: Cole Williams (So., Stockton, Calif.)
Ironman Award: Alek Dendall (So., Rocklin, Calif.)
2016 MEN'S WATER POLO CAPTAINS
Tyler Jamieson (Sr., Modesto, Calif.)
John Moon (So., Lake Oswego, Ore.)