March 15, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - Water polo matches at the Leavey Center Pool have always been intimate gatherings, with fans crowding the stands and yelling at the top of their lungs. This Saturday, the concrete bleachers will even more packed with Santa Clara school spirit in a doubleheader pitting the women's water polo team against No. 16 Princeton and Cal State Monterey Bay. Representatives from all of SCU's varsity sports will be out on the deck yelling and cheering for the Broncos, a result of the women's water polo team winning the Santa Clara Student Athlete Canned Food Drive. The women's water polo squad collected the most amount of food and as a reward, at least five members of each varsity team must come out to Saturday's games in their uniforms and cheer the Broncos to victory.
"Playing in front of a big crowd always adds to the level of excitement for a home game, and it will definitely help our team. Having fellow student athletes as a part of that crowd will help even more," said head coach Keith Wilbur. "Our team has a lot of respect for all the athletes at Santa Clara, and having players from every sports team at Santa Clara in attendance is going to be cool. I'm sure it is going to give our team extra incentive to perform well against Princeton and Cal State Monterey Bay."
Heading into Saturday's match, Princeton owns an overall record of 8-1 on the year, its lone loss to Maryland it suffered last weekend. The Tigers are led on offense by Elyse Colgan, who has netted 18 goals this year. Tied for second on the scoring end are Samantha Shaughnessy and Jazmin Brown with 9 goals. In the cage, Natalie Kim has done an excellent job for the Ivy League school, blocking 70 attacks thus far in 2006. Luis Nicolao is in his seventh year at the helm of the women's water polo program and was named the 2005 Southern Coach of the Year after guiding the Tigers to a 27-9 record last season.
"We can expect a tough battle against Princeton. They are one of the best teams from the East Coast, if not the best. They are currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, and one of their players, Elyse Colgan, is one of 25 players currently on the USA Water Polo Senior National Team. I expect a physical game with a lot of action," said Wilbur.
Cal State Monterey Bay will take on Santa Clara sporting an overall record of 7-10, including a 3-1 record at last weekend's Pioneer Shootout. Chelsea Laning is the leading goal-scorer for the Otters, finding the back of the net 60 times in 2006. Kellie Koorndyk and Alex Davis provide some offensive support to Laning, as the duo have combined to score 40 goals this season. Sharing time in the goal has been Pari Shaghaghi and Sarah Ford, as they have posted 51 and 34 saves, respectively. Gary Figueroa is in his second year at the helm of the Cal State Monterey Bay women's water polo program.
"We played Cal State Monterey Bay earlier in the season and I know they have improved a lot over the course of the year. Since this is the second game of the doubleheader, our team needs to stay mentally focused to make sure we come out with a victory," said Wilbur.