SANTA CLARA, Calif. -The No. 18 Santa Clara women's water polo team departed Thurs., March 6 for the Harvard Invitational. The matches this weekend pin the Broncos against Wagner College and a trio of Ivy League opponents in Harvard, No. 7 Princeton and Brown.
This is the first time in Bronco women's water polo team history that the team will travel over 3,000 miles away to Cambridge, Mass.
"Over the past four years, all of our games have been in California. This will be a new experience for this team to travel back East and play in the Harvard tournament," said Bronco head coach Keith Wilbur. "We are looking forward to seeing a different part of the country, and it will be fun to match up with some teams that we do not normally see."
This trip is not a vacation for the Broncos. Santa Clara kicks off the weekend on Friday with a morning match against the Wagner Seahawks before playing Brown University in the late afternoon.
Wagner freshman goalie Emily Riddle and sophomore Jess Lundgren were named Rookie of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week, respectively, for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Freshman Marisa Kolokotronis and senior Kate Woods of Brown took home the honors of Rookie of the Week and Collegiate Water Polo Association Southern Division Co-Player of the Week this past week, and have the Bears nearing a top-20 NCAA ranking.
Santa Clara wraps up the weekend with games against Princeton and Harvard on Sun., March 9.
Princeton is 11-0 on the season, and Wilbur looks forward to this prospective opponent. "Princeton is currently ranked 7th in the country and is the top team in the East, so that game will be a good challenge."
The Tigers – led by sophomores Ashleigh Johnson and Diana Murphy – could stand at a perfect 13-0 by the time they face off with the Broncos. This match begins bright and early, getting started at 8 am at Harvard, 5 am PST.
To close out the trip, Santa Clara will square off with the host team of Harvard. Harvard boasts a 7-3 overall record and fell just 11-9 against Princeton on Mar. 2. They carry a spread scoring offense anchored by senior Jelena Cyr and freshman Alexis Del Toro.
Santa Clara will look to three of its leading goal-scorers this upcoming weekend to provide the offensive spark. Senior Kaitlin Murphy and sophomores Elle Surber and Erin Sheridan have been pacing the offense. Murphy has 17 goals on the season, followed closely by Surber with 16 and Sheridan with 13. Surber had seven of the team's 24 goals in the two games last weekend, and Murphy scored four as the Broncos defeated Concordia and fell to UC Davis.
The Broncos will seek to build on their record and take down the opposing East coast teams in this approaching tournament.
"[Along with Princeton,] Harvard, Brown, and Wagner are also strong teams from back East having good seasons, so we need to be prepared for good competition throughout the tournament," said Wilbur.