Water Polo Players of the Year: Merced's Miller, Fogelberg

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comDecember 31, 2012 

— Alison Miller is tough to impress, especially when it comes to her own accomplishments.

The Merced High senior scored an amazing 154 goals this season.

"At first I didn't think much of it," Miller said. "Then I started comparing it to some of my friends at other schools. I guess I went a little goal crazy."

Brett Fogelberg also excelled at putting the ball in the cage for the Merced boys.

Fogelberg's 130 goals this season were the most by a Merced player since Matt Nutcher scored 184 in 1995.

"It means I took a lot of shots, probably some that I shouldn't have," Fogelberg said.

Another hard-to-impress Bear.

Both Miller and Fogelberg were named Central California Conference MVPs after leading their teams to undefeated conference titles.

For the second straight year, Miller and Fogelberg are the Sun-Star Water Polo Players of the Year.

Miller and Fogelberg are both prolific scorers, but they do it in different ways.

"Alison is great swimming with the ball," Fogelberg said. "She likes to make moves. She gets by defenders. She's a fast swimmer and she knows what to do when she gets the ball. My goals come more inside, doing more one-on-one stuff. I'm more stationary."

The Bears relied heavily on Miller's scoring. The three-time CCC MVP accounted for 52 percent of Merced's goals. Her 268 shots this year were 196 more than the second most shots taken on the team.

Miller isn't a one-dimensional player. She led the team with 52 assists and 108 steals. She drew 71 kickouts as well.

"Alison knows how to put herself in position to be open and get the ball," Merced girls coach Kristie Dunham said. She has a great outside shot. She doesn't shoot the ball extremely hard, but it's precise."

Miller has put in a lot of work to become a proficient scorer from the perimeter.

"It's taken a couple years to get a good outside shot," said Miller, who accepted a water polo scholarship from the University of the Pacific. "I played softball before water polo, so I kind of had the arm to throw long. I had to combine those skills to throw a bigger ball."

Fogelberg did the bulk of his damage inside, close to the cage.

"Brett did a lot of work on his own to get stronger," said Merced boys coach Steve Eccles. "Playing 2 meters, it's more about positioning than having a great shot. If you can't get open, you can't get the ball and score. He lifted on his own religiously. When you look at Brett, he doesn't look like a big guy, but he's strong."

It helped that Fogelberg played alongside two dynamic players in Isaac Santana and Matt Kagle.

"Those two guys are phenomenal water polo players," Fogelberg said. "Matt knows how to find me and make great passes. He plays both ends. Me and Isaac are great. We butted heads a few years ago, but we have a great connection now. We worked great together."

Fogelberg hopes to play water polo at the Air Force Academy. He's currently going through the application process.

It helps that he has a 4.2 GPA. He's also considering UC San Diego and UC Davis.

Fogelberg's intelligence pays off in the pool. According to Eccles, it was actually Fogelberg's suggestion to switch defenses against Atwater's power play late in the game. The defensive switch helped the Bears fend off two six-on-five situations late.

Fogelberg knows he will have to adjust his game at the next level.

"I definitely have to improve on defense," Fogelberg said. "I can play good defense, but only when I want to. My defense was sporadic at best. I focused a lot on scoring. My team needed it. I definitely need to work a lot on my defense for the next level."


BOYS

Isaac Santana, senior, Merced

Matt Cagle, junior, Merced

Andrew Blackwood, senior,

Buhach Colony

Hans Van Warmerdam, junior, Atwater

Josh Heller, junior, Atwater

Kaden Verdin, junior, Buhach Colony

GIRLS

Audrey DeBard, junior, Golden Valley

Jane Eckles, sophomore, Merced

Marissa Crider, junior, Atwater

Paloma Salazar, senior, Buhach Colony

Noelle Farrar, senior, Buhach Colony

Alyssa Luna, senior, Los Banos

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