Leah Robertson proved exactly why she was named CWPA Western Division MVP in the Wolverines’ decisive weekend at Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium in College Park, Maryland by winning the Eastern Conference Championship MVP.

She led the No. 7 Michigan water polo team to a record-setting third consecutive CWPA division title, which includes an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

After two high-scoring victories over Harvard, 18-10, and Princeton, 12-8 — in which Robertson had six goals — the Wolverines met with arch-rival No. 14 Indiana.

“We didn’t view this as a game to win a bid for the final eight in San Diego,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson said. “We viewed it as, ‘We don’t lose to Indiana’.”

The Wolverines showed a promising balanced attack against the Hoosiers, as they exploded for five goals in the first half against a stubborn Indiana defense, matching their total from their April 24 victory.

The second half was about holding off the surging Hoosiers, who were trying to overcome a three-goal deficit. But freshman goalkeeperAlex Adamson and the Wolverines’ defense were able to fend off Indiana’s best efforts. Indiana made it a 5-4 game heading into the fourth stanza with two unanswered goals, but a late goal by junior Lauren Orth sealed the Michigan victory.

“We put five on them in the first half,” Anderson said. “We actually handled them differently in that we busted through their defense for five goals. And at 5-2 not very many teams, if any, are going to come back on us. And that’s what the ladies were feeling at halftime — that Indiana would make a run, but we were going to play lock-down defense and that’s what we did.”

And some Wolverines celebrated more than just a NCAA Tournament bid after defeating the Hoosiers. Robertson wasn’t the only one recognized for her performance this season. Anderson was awarded his fifth and second-consecutive Western Division Coach of the Year crown and freshman Kiki Golden was enshrined as both the Western Division Rookie of the Year and Eastern Conference Rookie of the Tournament.

Michigan will look to continue its hot streak on a much larger scale starting May 14 in San Diego, where the Wolverines will face the best in the country in search of their first NCAA Tournament Championship, hoping to expand on their previous two fifth and six-place finishes.

“To do three in a row is harder than to win it the first time or the second time,” Anderson said. “After last year, losing seven of our top 16 and losing roughly four starters, people didn’t expect this to happen. But we felt as a program that we could do it. … It made it very satisfying for the team to complete the three-peat.”

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