March 27, 2012

Key WWPA Games On Tap for Santa Clara Women's Water Polo

2012 SCU Women's Water Polo Virtual Media Guide

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
The Santa Clara University women's water polo team enters a pivotal stretch of play spanning the next month leading up to the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships in late April.

The Broncos will play four conference games this week, beginning with a road match at Sonoma State Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. CSU Bakersfield's tournament follows, an event that pits SCU against No. 7 LMU, weekend host CSU Bakersfield on Saturday and Cal State San Bernadino Sunday.

"We have about a month of season before our conference championships, and we are playing a lot of league games over the next few weeks," said Santa Clara head water polo coach Keith Wilbur about the upcoming schedule. "Every conference game will have an impact on our seed going into the tournament, so this is a great opportunity for us to win as many of these games as possible and go into WWPA's with a high seed."

Santa Clara defeated Sonoma State 6-4 back on Jan. 29 in Santa Barbara and nearly beat CSU Bakersfield at the same event, losing a tight 10-9 decision in the final moments. So the group is optimistic about their chances of improving on their 3-5 WWPA record and moving up in the standings.

Wilbur has been pleased with his team's play in front of the cage. Record-setting senior 2M Laura Espinosa (Mountain View, Calif./Mountain View HS), freshman Kaitlin Murphy (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS) and junior Alison Norris (Saratoga, Calif./Saratoga HS) have been key contributors on the offensive end.

"We have good two-meter defenders who allow us to press a lot," said Wilbur. "We are working on creating more offense off the counter attack coming out of this press defense. On offense, I think our two-meter sets have been doing a great job holding position and drawing kick outs. Converting a higher number of our 6-on-5 opportunities will help our offense a lot as well."

Senior Marina Allen (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley HS), sophomore Claire Eadington (Corona Del Mar/Corona Del Mar HS) and true freshman Ashleigh Bandimere (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS) continue to provide the bulk of the goal production. However, five different Broncos scored in Sunday's game with No. 13 Maryland - one of 12 games against top 20 teams SCU has played this season.

The games this week will go a long way in determining how Santa Clara's season will ultimately turn out. Additionally, the 2012 Santa Clara Invitational (The Bronco), is loaded with WWPA teams, who will visit SCU's Sullivan Aquatic Center the weekend of April 14-15.

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