Feb. 28, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - The showdown between the nationally-ranked Santa Clara and UC Davis women's water polo programs this Saturday is huge. The Broncos have never beaten their NorCal rival and head coach Keith Wilbur would like to see that changed, starting this weekend at Schaal Aquatics Center, on the campus of UC Davis. Game time is set for noon.
Leading the Red & White into battle will be a variety of players. After graduating last year's go-to player and all-time leading scorer in Catherine Flynn, No. 20 Santa Clara is relying on several people to put the ball through the net, creating a diverse attack that is difficult to guard. Senior co-captains Lindsey Bacolini and Alanna Simpkins lead the young Broncos, who feature 15 underclassmen on the roster. In the cage, junior Kristin Barnes and sophomore Randahl Capurro have split time and given Wilbur two reliable shot blockers for the team to rely upon during crunch time.
No. 14 UC Davis will be paced by a talented sophomore class, including Ashley Greenwood, Casie Mota, Christi Raycraft, and Jessica Soza. In addition, juniors Katherine O'Rourke and Cassie Schaefer have contributed greatly in the Aggie's 2006 season, as they post an 8-7 mark thus far. Schaefer is a returning All-Western Water Polo First Team selection and Raycraft and O'Rourke earned All-WWPA Second Team honors in 2005. Stabilizing the UC Davis defense has been junior goalkeeper Lina Moore.
"UC Davis is an excellent team. They have always been one of the better teams in our conference, and they have always been the top Western Water Polo Association team in Northern California," said Wibur. "In the past our goal has been to play well against Davis, but that is no longer the case. Now our goal is to beat Davis. Beating Davis is a big hurdle for our program, but I believe that our team this year can do it."
Prior to its big showdown with UC Davis, however, Santa Clara must take on host Cal State East Bay on Friday at 3 p.m. in a rematch of an earlier contest that was won by the Broncos 15-1. A host of players scored goals for SCU, with Asher, Miller, Kayle Pezzuto and Mele Rehder all finding the back of the net twice. In addition, goals were netted by Kendal Hildebrand, Allie Lamb, Amy Lamb, Linney, Perry, Radvanyi, and Simpkins. Santa Clara expects more of a battle the second time around.
"Our first game against East Bay was early in the year. Both of our teams have improved since then, and playing them at their home pool is a much tougher environment than playing them here. We need to come out and play high intensity water polo right from the start," said Wilbur.