The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Water polo: a young team striving for nationals

By Jamie Macpherson

2010 has been an unusual season for the Macalester water polo team. With a team of ten where only five have played before, it would be easy to write off the Scots. However, with dedication and hard work, the Scots have put up a good fight, holding a 4-6 standing in the conference in addition to having three players receive weekly honors from the College Water Polo Association (CWPA).”This season has really been a building year for us,” Jillian Benson ’11 said. With half of the team freshmen, the Scots are short on experience, but make up for it with determination. “The girls are working really hard during practice and you can tell it’s paying off during the games. I’m really impressed at how quickly the girls have caught on and how determined they are during games.”

But sometimes, it comes down to a game of numbers. Water polo games are played seven on a side, which means at a given time, only five of the players have played for more than one season. In addition, the Scots only have three subs, and often are simply outplayed by teams of twenty plus players. It’s a situation Captain Sarah Ellerton ’10 finds frustrating.

“I really like winning, and it’s hard to lose,” she said. “But at the same time, I recognize that the girls are playing the hardest they can, and it’s fantastic that they’re doing so well in a varsity level sport. There’s no way I could’ve done this my first year of playing.”

With some many newcomers this year, the Scots had to return to the basics.

“We really did have to spend a lot of time on the fundamentals of the game,” Brianna Besch ’13 said, who started playing water polo back in her high school in Egypt. “While it’s vastly improved our game, it means we didn’t spend as much time running offensive plays,” she said.

Another concern for the team was the loss of their former goalkeeper, Sofia Shaw ’09, who gradated last year. Stepping up to take her place is Hannah Strauss-Albee ’13, who was recognized as rookie of the week and defensive player of the week.

One of the team’s strengths, however, is their across-the-board consistency in playing. With both a strong defense and offense, it makes it difficult for other teams to pinpoint Macalester’s weaknesses.

“We have some really good shooters on the team and we have a really good hole-set” Benson said. “Which is the main offensive position, as well as a really good hold-d, who is the defensive player for the hole-set.”

There is a collective effort by the team to score, Ellerton said, which takes off the pressure on individuals to carry the team.

“The Washington-Jefferson coach was screaming, ‘they only have 4 and 19! That’s all they have!” Ellerton said. “But we have [Benson] and [McCabe] also stepping it up.”

As the Scots look to prepare for the conference meet on April 23 and 24th, the team hopes to continue their balanced offensive approach, looking especially to score more from the outside.

“We have players who can shoot, but don’t always take the opportunities they have, myself included,” Benson said. “So we’ve been trying to get the girls to not be afraid to shoot, and recognize their opportunities.”

In order to be guaranteed a spot in the national playoffs, Macalester must place in the top three, with host team Carthage (Wis.) placing above them, as they have an automatic bid in the competition. Ellerton, who has already been to nationals twice in her time at Mac, is optimistic about her team’s prospects.

“We’ve played all the teams in the tournament and we’ve seen what they can do,” she said. “We just need to adjust our game to shut down their big players.”

Leading the team is head coach Jennie Charlesworth. A former D-I player, this is her second year of coaching.

“She’s a tough coach who makes us condition a lot,” Ellerton said of her coach. “But in the end, I think all the training and conditioning will pay off and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

The team next plays on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a scrimmage against the University of Minnesota.

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