Junior men’s water polo co-captain Alex Mul is on pace to shatter every scoring mark in Panther history.Just last week, Mul broke Chapman’s all-time goals mark against Pomona-Pitzer, pushing his career total to 240. Eric Sandvig previously held the record, scoring 237 goals from 1997-2000.More importantly, his 2.9 goals per game this season, including a nine-goal effort in a 15-6 win over La Verne on Sept. 6, have galvanized his teammates.The Panthers (9-4), ranked No. 4 in Division III, are off to their best start since 2001.Breaking the goals mark was pretty exciting and it felt pretty cool, but I am happier with our team play as opposed to my individual accomplishments,” said Mul. “In the big picture, you can’t win games without having an entire team.”Still, Mul’s skill set has caught the eyes of his teammates.”Mul is unbelievably talented. He’s easily the most talented player I’ve ever played with,” said junior co-captain Austin McElvaney. “He’s very accurate and strong, and he creates a lot of mismatches.”Though Mul did not begin playing water polo until age nine, his competitive swimming career started at age five.Since his family took a lot of ocean related vacations, his parents wanted him to be water-safe, said his mother, Sharon Mul.Soon, it became apparent that Alex was a special swimmer, said Sharon Mul.Mul competed in multiple junior Olympics as a swimmer and a water polo player. He medaled in the 50, 100, and 200 meter freestyle races in swimming and won a gold and a bronze medal in water polo.Mul swam for three years and played water polo all four years at Servite High School in Anaheim, where he helped his water polo team win two California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championships.Mul also anchored the federation, winning the 4-by-100-meter relay team in 2005, posting the fourth fastest 100-meter time in the country that year, according to his father, Joe Mul.Though Mul was offered a Division I scholarship to play water polo at UC Santa Clara, he turned down the offer. Mul said he chose Chapman because he felt a visceral connection to the school and he liked its academic reputation.”We were really excited when Alex came here because we knew how good he was,” said Head Water Polo Coach Eric Ploessel. “We knew that our program was going to change with his presence.”However, in Mul’s first two seasons, Chapman’s record was 23-33.”There were times I had doubts, but now that our program is getting built up, the talent pool is growing. The team’s come a long way,” said Mul.Ploessel said he has seen his team mature markedly since Mul arrived two years ago.”The past couple years we haven’t had a lot of leaders on this team. Our best players were 18- and 19-year-olds, and they acted like 18- and 19-year-olds. Now, Mul and some of our other players have stepped up and become leaders. They aren’t just little kids anymore,” said Ploessel.McElvaney also said that Mul’s improved leadership skills have made a big impact on the team’s success.”The big difference in Mul this year is that he has become a better leader,” said McElvaney. “He’s been able to bring the team together and has become the player to look up to in more ways than just his goal scoring ability.”Mul, the two-time national scoring champion, said his goal is to help keep the team in the top four for the rest of the year. He also said he hopes to finish in the top four of the WesternWater Polo Association’s championship tournament, the winner of which gets an automatic bid to the NCAA national championships.As for next year, Mul said he thinks the Panthers can finish as the top team in Division III.All three captains will return next year, and Mul said he thinks the budding freshman class is going to improve.”Finishing first would mean a lot to me because me and my teammates have put our blood and sweat into this team,” said Mul.
Sophomore utility player Alex Mul is happy to break records, but more excited that the team has posted a 9-4 record.