Waterpolo nationals preview

By Caitlin Opperman

Coming off a consistently successful regular season, the women’s water polo team is headed to the Collegiate Division III national championships this weekend. The championships are in Thousand Oaks, California, and are hosted by California Lutheran University.The Scots are seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament with an overall season record of 16-11, having won eight of their last nine games.

While there is great excitement and anticipation for nationals this year, Macalester also went to the tournament two years ago.

“The first time, two years ago, was a bit of a Cinderella story,” goalkeeper Sofia Shaw ’09 said. “We didn’t have a winning season, and we entered the Regionals qualifying tournament with an attitude of ‘let’s see what happens.’ We lost all three games the first day, were seeded fourth going into the semi-final game, won that game, and won the final game in overtime. It was very exciting, but it was also kind of unstable. This year we were much more consistent, both in our records and our playing.”

The consistency bodes well for Macalester’s performance at nationals this time around.

“California produces top-notch teams, and in the past we would go hoping to win one,” Shaw said. “But this year we definitely held our own. I expect Nationals to be no different.”

The Scots faced several of the teams who qualified for nationals during their spring break trip and are looking forward to some repeat match-ups.

“We’ll be playing some teams for the second time, so we already know their style and who their better players are,” Shaw said. “To prepare, we’ve just been sticking to the basics, maintaining the conditioning, but perfecting our passing and shooting. At this point we’re not learning many new things; we’re just taking what we do well and improving it.”

Macalester will play its first games today against UC-Santa Cruz and Occidental. Saturday morning, the team will face Grove City, and results will determine the schedule for the remainder of the weekend. Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands, Washington & Jefferson and Cal State East Bay are also in the tournament.