The Michigan women’s water polo team experienced a rather atypical weekend in Bloomington as it lost to a familiar opponent, beat a Division III school by 20 goals and found time in between to scrimmage a Canadian club team.

The Fluid Four tournament, hosted by Indiana, marked the Wolverines’ return to the Midwest after two consecutive trips to tournaments in California.

On Saturday, No. 19 Michigan fell to Long Beach State, 11-8. The matchup marked the second meeting in as many weeks between the two schools — the 49ers topped the Wolverines, 8-6, at the Triton Invitational in San Diego on Feb. 9.

According to Michigan coach Matt Anderson, the team executed the original game plan well but failed to convert in key situations.

“The game plan was to move on them and get power plays,” Anderson said. “We did — we got 11, (but) only scored on two.”

The familiarity that came with having faced Long Beach State so recently was helpful in terms of forming a game plan and strategizing but proved to make little difference when push came to shove.

“We really prepared for their particular defense,” said junior driver Audrey Pratt. “They dropped back so that we couldn’t really get the ball to our two-meters, which is one of our strong points.”

Pratt scored three goals in the contest, and junior attacker Kelsey Nolan added two of her own. Senior goalie Alex Adamson came away with six total saves in the losing effort.

The Wolverines led 4-2 after the first quarter, but allowed the 49ers to score three unanswered goals in the second, giving them a lead they’d never relinquish.

In the third quarter, Michigan earned six power plays, none of which led to goals. Long Beach State converted on three of four total power plays for the game. Anderson cited this differential as the game’s principal difference maker.

“You miss six in a row and you’re not going to beat anybody,” Anderson said. “Much less a top-10 team.”

After winning a casual scrimmage against a club team from Montreal, the Wolverines faced off against Washington and Jefferson, a Division III school.

“They wanted to come and take an opportunity to play Division I teams,” Anderson said. “You have to respect that.”

The score reflected the mismatch, however, as 13 different Michigan players scored in a 21-1 victory. The Wolverines led 6-0 at halftime, but added a barrage of 15 goals over the course of the game’s final two periods.

“It was good for players who haven’t gotten as many minutes to get an opportunity,” Anderson said, citing freshmen defenders Kirby Kaptur and Katie Allison, as well as freshman two-meter Barbara Lanier, as a few of the athletes on that list.

Freshmen goalkeepers Nikki Baron and Hayden Green relieved Adamson in the second half. Barron made four saves, while Green contributed two. Freshman two-meter Bryce Beckwith posted a hat trick against the Presidents, with Kaptur and Allison adding two goals each.

“Against a Division III team, they should be able to dominate,” Anderson said. “That’s what we were looking for.”

A theme this season for the Wolverines has been the ongoing adjustment to a large influx of freshmen, many of whom have stepped up in recent weeks to play at a level consistent with their upperclassmen teammates.

“We’re starting to play to our strengths,” Pratt said. “It’s hard to have the amount of freshmen that we do, for any team … having them step up is really helping us and I think the season is definitely turning around.”

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