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New leaders will dive in

Spartans, Tologs and Rebels look to improve under brand-new coaches in 2011.

November 23, 2011|By Charles Rich and Andrew Shortall, charles.rich@latimes.com and andrew.shortall@latimes.com

For the second year in a row, there will be a new face coaching the La Cañada High girls' water polo team in 2011.

Kristen Dronberger, who is La Cañada's new coach after spending the fall coaching the school's junior varsity and frosh/soph boys' water polo teams, is determined to see her team take some strides this season.

"It's difficult for any program to bounce through coaches," said Dronberger, who was officially hired for her first head-coaching job a few weeks ago. "I am looking forward to improving the program dramatically and getting some CIF and league titles in the future."

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The Spartans struggled last year, posting an 8-19, 3-5 in Rio Hondo League, record. La Cañada earned a CIF Southern Section Division III wild-card playoff berth with a third-place finish in league and were defeated by Charter Oak, 20-3, in the wild-card round.

Cracking the top-two teams in Rio Hondo League will be tough this year, as South Pasadena and San Marino enter this season ranked No. 5 and 10, respectively, in the Division III polls.

"Every team's goal is to finish higher in league than last year," Dronberger said. "We are trying for second or first. [South Pasadena] has been the top [in league] and they have a good program, but we'd like to give them a run for their money this year."

La Cañada has the challenge of improving without the services of its go-to scorer last year, Rita Neat. Neat scored 100 goals and assisted on 38 to earn all-league and area honors last year. It's all hands on deck for the Spartans without Neat.

"All of our girls are definitely going to need to step up and be able to perform," Dronberger said.

There are still some things up in the air, though.

"Right now, there are no set offensive positions, we are weighing our options," Dronberger said. "We have a few outside threats and some girls that can play at the two meter. They just need to be fine tuned."

Dronberger is stressing defense this season with a back-to-fundamentals approach.

"Regardless of what level you play, every season starts with fundamentals," Dronberger said. "You lose information over the offseason, so I always go to the building blocks of fundamentals. You get those down and you can build from there. There is always room for improvement with the little things."

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Flintridge Prep also have new coaches on board.

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