March 28, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - For many students at Santa Clara, Spring Break usually means going home to visit family or traveling to some exotic location for a week. For the No. 20 women's water polo team, it means four contests in five days, three of them in the comfy confines of the Leavey Center Pool. Wednesday afternoon, Brown invades the Mission Campus for a 1 p.m. game, while on the following day, Santa Clara travels to Sonoma, Calif. for a 1 p.m. meeting with Sonoma State. Finally on Sunday, Santa Clara hosts a doubleheader with Chapman at 10 a.m. and Pacific at 4 p.m.
Brown owns an overall record of 4-9 and takes on Sonoma State and Pacific in a doubleheader on Tuesday prior to Wednesday's match with Santa Clara.. Paige Lansing is the team's leading scorer, with 21 goals on the year, while Elizabeth Balassone and Karlyanna Kopra are next in line, with 13 and 12 goals, respectively. Anne Deggelman is the starting goalie and has blocked 77 shots already this year. Jason Gall is in his first year at the helm of the Brown women's water polo program.
"Brown is solid team, and they have played a very tough schedule this year. They are much better than their win loss record would indicate, and we expect a good competitive game from them," stated head coach Keith Wilbur.
Santa Clara and Sonoma State previously faced off earlier this season, with SCU coming away with a dominating 14-5 victory at the Slugfest Tournament. Christie Miller and Andrea Evans led the way for the Broncos, as they both found the back of the net three times. The Seawolves are 14-8 on the year, with their most recent victory coming against Chapman last Saturday. Sonoma State plays Brown and Pacific today in a doubleheader. Sasha Versage is the most dangerous scorer for Sonoma State, logging in 35 goals this season. Alicia Hansel is in her third season as the head coach of the Seawolves and has compiled an overall record of 49-41.
"Sonoma State is one of the stronger teams in the Western Water Polo Association conference. They can score a lot of different ways, and they are really tough to play at their pool," noted Wilbur. "We had a good win against them earlier in the year, but we should expect a closer game this time around."
Chapman (10-11) is led by returning Division III All-Americans in Kristin Carter and Kristina Eich. Carter, a junior, set a school record for the most goals in a single season last year with 75, while Eich, a senior, added 58 assists to go along with her 88 ejections. This year, the two have combined for 72 goals on the year. Senior Teri Bartel is one of the best defenders on the team, using her speed and quickness to counter opponent's best offensive moves. Constance Morris has started all 21 games for Chapman and has accumulated 126 blocks. Eric Ploessel is in his third season as the head coach of the women's water polo program at Chapman.
"Chapman is also in the WWPA, but we have not seen them play this year," admitted Wilbur. "They usually have some interesting looks in terms of what they are doing offensively and defensively. We need to recognize what they are doing early and adjust accordingly."
Pacific enters Sunday's contest with Santa Clara winless in 2006, sporting a 0-11 record. Junior Virginia McConnell is the top returning scorer from last season, finding the net on 26 occasions. Sophomore Jocelyn Gray mans the cage for UOP and she had an excellent season last year, posting 222 saves. The Tigers are coached by former Bronco head coach Steve Hanson. He is in his first year with the Pacific women's water polo program, as he was named the interim head coach in December 2005 after then-head coach Ryan Brown resigned.
"Pacific has a new coach this year and a young team. I'm sure they see this year as somewhat of a rebuilding year, but they play in the strongest conference in college women's water polo, so we are going to expect some good competition from them," stated Wilbur.