April 19, 2010

 

By Trevor Freeman
Special to NCAA.com


The temperature in the pool officially needs to be checked as it was boiling this weekend.  We had last second finishes, stunning upsets and a dominant squad flexing their superior muscles.  With conference tournaments commencing next weekend, every team is approaching postseason form and that is resulting in electric play.  

One of the weekend’s hotspots was in Tempe, Arizona as fourteenth-ranked San Diego State scored a surprising 11-8 upset win over ninth-ranked Arizona State.  After defeating the Sun Devils, San Diego State faced fifteenth-ranked Indiana in an intriguing nonconference clash.  That game was never close as Indiana scored six straight goals to open the game and never trailed in defeating the Aztecs 11-7.  Indiana University will always be known for its illustrious basketball tradition, however the ladies of the pool are having a wonderful campaign right now as Indiana’s water polo squad will be in the mix for an NCAA bid.  I sat down and discussed Hoosier water polo with their Head Coach Barry King and below is our interview.

Your team, Michigan and Hartwick are the clear favorites in the East.  What does your squad need to do to win the East and make NCAAs?

We need to continue to defend and need to get more aggressive to the ball.  Those two games against Michigan turned on one or two plays.  We have to defend and hold teams to six goals a game.  If we do that, we should be able to figure out a way to score seven or eight goals.  We need to get better on the power play as well.  We have been successful in the power in our wins and not successful in our losses.

Jakie Kohli has emerged as a star for your squad.  What makes her the great player that she is?

Jakie is long and has a very good nose for the ball defensively.  She creates offense on the defensive end.  Jakie also swims well all game long.  She has gotten comfortable with being a finisher.  On her club team she was surrounded by a lot of gifted players and played a more complementary role.  Jakie has gotten more integrated into the collegiate game this season.  She has seventy-two goals and nearly fifty assists which comprises more than half of our goals.

Cassie Wycoff has been very effective in the cage for your team.  Can you tell us what makes her so good between the pipes?

She is a great athlete and is really good at trusting her instincts.  Cassie has also gotten more comfortable being in a leadership position and has been more willing to let go and be that great athlete.
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In the second quarter of the marquee clash of the weekend, a statement was made.  It was one that should be felt by every team harboring NCAA dreams.  That statement is that USC is the favorite as the season heads towards its conclusion and that the Women of Troy can shift into a gear that no other team possesses.  With the game tied 2-2 at the end of the first quarter, top-ranked USC proceeded to outscore the five-time defending NCAA Champion and fourth-ranked UCLA Bruins 7-0 in the second quarter to jump out to a 9-2 lead.  From there, the Trojans cruised to a 14-5 victory.  Two impressive things that I noted from watching highlights of the victory were the quality looks USC was getting and how outstanding their shot placement was.  The Trojans just looked like a well-oiled machine.  It was USC’s Senior Day and they received incredible contributions from the five key members of the team that will be departing at the end of this campaign.  Kami Craig and Alexandra Kiss each had a hat trick while Tumua Anae notched fourteen saves.  Kally Lucas scored two goals and Forel Davies won all four opening sprints.  

Tie ballgame.  One second left.  Big Splash.  A chance to insert your name into the great tradition that is the rivalry between Stanford and California.  What do you do if you are 2008 United States Olympian, Jessica Steffens?  How about drain the game-winning shot as time expires.  In what was a gigantic contest, Steffens scored off a pass from Kelsey Holshouser to deliver an 8-7 victory for the Cardinal.  Kim Krueger’s two goals led Stanford past their longtime rivals and keeps the second-ranked Cardinal unblemished in MPSF play heading into next week’s home contest against USC.  Third-ranked California has to be heartbroken as they came so close to securing a victory that would have most likely punched their NCAA at-large ticket.  California’s regular season is concluded and they will head into the MPSF Tournament that begins on April 30th locked in a race with UCLA and fifth-ranked Hawaii for what looks to be two NCAA at-large bids.  

It was Senior Night on the Islands and Hawaii did not let sixth-ranked San Jose State spoil the party as the Rainbow Wahine used a late Carmen Eggens goal to score a 6-5 victory.  Eggens led the Hawaii offense with four goals while Serena Bredin notched twelve saves to spearhead the defense.  This win concluded the regular season for Hawaii and they will have plenty of time for MPSF Tournament preparations.

If we were to award a “team of the week” honor, there would be a number of candidates. One of them is the resurgent Tigers of the University of Pacific.  Sixteenth-ranked Pacific defeated tenth-ranked Cal State Northridge and twelfth-ranked UC-Santa Barbara over the weekend to claim a share of the regular season title in the Big West.  Their win over Cal State Northridge was a triple overtime thriller that was secured by a Bridget Geck goal with 2:39 left in the third overtime period.  Brooke Millar broke Pacific’s single season saves record during the contest and led the Tigers to the victory as she had twelve crucial stops.  Jillian Stapf had a valiant fifteen saves in defeat for the Matadors.  The following day saw the Tigers defeat UCSB 13-9 behind three goals each from Bridget Geck and Dara Tawarahara.  Pacific and Cal State Northridge tied for first place in the Big West as they each finished with a 4-1 conference record. However, Pacific’s win on Saturday over the Matadors means that they will enter next weekend’s Big West Tournament as the top seed.

Player of the Week

Kirsten Hudson, Hartwick, Sr.:  The New Zealander surpassed the six-hundred point mark for her career with a three goal, two assist performance against Brown that sealed Hartwick’s tenth straight CWPA Northern Division title.

Contest to Watch

Top-ranked USC visits second-ranked Stanford in what will be appointment viewing for the water polo public.  The two sides have met twice this season with Stanford winning 10-7 on February 6th at the Stanford Invitational and USC emerging victorious 10-6 at the UC-Irvine Invitational on February 28th.