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Anderson faces old school foes

BY ELLEN MCGARRITY
Daily Sports Writer
Published January 24, 2003

When talking about his new status with the Michigan women's water polo team, new head coach Matt Anderson can't contain his excitement.

"I feel absolutely fantastic!" Anderson said. "I made the move from the West coast to position myself to get here. It happened quicker than I thought - I really have been blessed."

Last October, an enthusiastic Anderson was welcomed into Ann Arbor to take the reins of the program after former head coach Amber Drury-Pinto was chosen to preside over the 2002-03 U.S. Women's Junior National Team.

This may be Anderson's first time as head coach of the game, but he is no stranger to college water polo. Before becoming a Wolverine, Anderson was the assistant coach for two other strong water polo programs - from 1999-2001 at his alma mater San Jose State and from 2001-02 at Indiana. Anderson even did a bit of journalism before coaching water polo at the high school and collegiate levels.

This weekend, the team will kick off its season hosting the Michigan Invitational at Canham Natatorium. Ranked No. 12 in the nation last year, the Wolverines return with many of their star players.

"Defensively, we have our All-American goal keeper, Betsey Armstrong," Anderson said, referring to the sophomore who last season along with junior Julie Nisbet earned an honorable mention selection by the American Water Polo Coaches Association. "The rest of the team is made up of some very solid players."

Some of those players Anderson was talking about are seniors Emily Pelino, Stephanie Morse and fifth-year senior Delia Sonda, who will lead the squad as tri-captains.

Other high-scoring players returning to the team are sophomores Casey Kerney, Erin Brown and Sheetal Narsai.

"We did lose a few (players) that contributed a lot," Anderson said. "Jen Crisman, who swam both for us and the Michigan swimming team is now practicing with the U.S. National Women's water polo team."

The squad, which has been preparing for the season both in the mornings and afternoons for the past three weeks, is confident they are ready for this weekend's invitational. Michigan will welcome San Jose State, Indiana and Eastern Michigan to Canham Natatorium tomorrow, followed by Hartwick and Michigan State on Sunday.

Even though the games this weekend don't count on the Wolverines' record, a lot is at stake for Anderson, since he recently coached at both San Jose State and Indiana.

"I have a lot of emotional ties with San Jose State," Anderson said. "My incentive to beat them is to thank (San Jose coach) Lou Tully for helping me get to where I am today."

Indiana, which tied for No. 14 in the nation last year with California, Irvine, has always been Michigan's fiercest opponent in the East.

"We always want to beat IU," sophomore Melissa Goldberg said. "They're our biggest rivals."