Jan. 24, 2008
Santa Clara, Calif. -- This Friday the Santa Clara women's water polo team will open up their 2008 season against Cal State East Bay. The Broncos, who went 22-14 last year and finished 4th in the WWPA, will be a deep team composed of veterans and newcomers alike and will look to improve up on last season's success.
"This is a very good team," said head coach Keith Wilbur. "This is one of those years where we have a lot of juniors and seniors, a lot of players with experience, and some great leadership from the seniors."
The team returns six of seven starters from last year's squad. Emily Bonk and Elizabeth Perry are the team's senior captains. Bonk is one of the team's better offensive players and a very good outside shooter. She is a good driver and creates a lot on the offensive end. On the other side of the ball, Perry has been the team's most valuable defensive player for the past two years. She is the team's primary two-meter defender and is one of the better players at starting counterattacks. Both these two players have been either starting or coming off the bench in the four years that they have played at Santa Clara and are experienced leaders.
Left-handed junior Amy Lamb is another valuable returnee for the team. Lamb was third on the team in goals last year and first in assists, with double the amount of any other player on the team. "Amy is great at setting up the right-handers coming through the middle, and when she sees them, she hits them," said Wilbur. "Everyone loves playing with her because she makes good passes."
Junior Claire Linney is the team's primary two-meter set and looks to build upon the strong year she had last season. Senior Christie Miller has been a spark plug for the team off the bench in the past, but this year will play a bigger role as a starter. "Christie is a very good utility player," said Wilbur. "She can defend holes, she can set holes, she's a good perimeter player, and she is smart and fast."
Senior Randahl Capurro started roughly half the games in goal last year and will be the starter this year. "We're very confident in Randahl and we expect her to have a big year this year," said Wilbur. "She's been ready to go for a couple of years now."
Junior Brianna Anderson is the team's returning scorer last year, despite starting only 11 games last year. A great shooter, Anderson is just coming off a shoulder injury and has just started practicing with the team, but there is no question that when she gets back and healthy that she's going to be a big impact player.
One of the biggest strengths of this team will be its depth. Ten different players returning this year played in 30 or more games last year. "We have great depth and we can really go deep into our bench and not have much of a dropoff," said Wilbur. "We're very well rounded and there are a lot of potential starters on this team."
Sophomores Meg Zimmerman and Jenny Knutson are both coming off great freshmen campaigns and will look to contribute this year. Newcomer Taylor Harkins, a freshman, has been shooting the ball very well in practice lately and getting more and more confident. "I can definitely see an improvement just from the fall workouts to now," said Wilbur.
The Broncos have multiple ways to attack this year with their great speed and shooters, but, as most Keith Wilbur teams, they will also be very tough defensively. With talented defenders and an experienced goalie coming back, Santa Clara will be a force on both ends of the pool.
"Our goal every year is to win conference," said Wilbur. "I really think this team can do that this year."