This weekend was a story of numbers at the Wolverine Invitational. The water polo team took to the pools of the Canham Natatorium against five smaller schools that the Michigan student body out-populates 41,674-16,369.

This immense disparity was never more evident than against Grove City, which happens to share the Wolverine as its mascot. No. 8 Michigan carries a full 31-person squad. Its Pennsylvanian counterpart is a small Division III school without the ability to award athletic scholarships. With a simple glance down the benches it was clearly a mismatch; Michigan had five strings to Grove City’s 13 players. Michigan went on to win that match 18-5.

The Friday-Saturday invitational saw Michigan (9-0 CWPA, 20-6 overall) sweep the competition, destroying all of its opponents. The Wolverines beat Gannon, Mercyhurst, Iona, Grove City and Siena by a combined 81-20. The stat-padding invitational served as preparation for early-round NCAA Tournament games.

“We have to make sure we play the teams on the east that can go to the NCAA Tournament,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson said. “Iona has a decent shot of winning their conference and Siena as well”

This weekend will both help familiarize the Wolverines with possible opponents and could determine seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

But the invitational was overshadowed by the anticipation for the upcoming Fluid Four which includes a rematch with No. 16 Indiana. The intensity of the rivalry game is escalated by being the first televised match of Big Ten schools. The match, which will take place in Ann Arbor on Saturday April 3, has brought much excitement to the Michigan locker room.

“I think a lot of players are hoping to become movie stars or actresses,” Anderson said. “It’s big because it’s going to be nationwide and it’s Michigan-Indiana — that’s an outstanding rivalry in women’s water polo. I’m just very happy the Big Ten decided to make their first Big Ten Network game a Michigan game.”

The Wolverines have struggled recently with fifth-year senior goalie Brittany May and senior captain Leah Robertson both injured. They have been resting recently in order to come back for conference and national championships coming up in April.

“We didn’t need to play (Robertson) this weekend,” Anderson said. “April is when our championship portion of the season is and that’s when you want to be at your best, and that’s when we’re going to have Leah back.”

May did see some pool action this weekend, and despite a shoulder injury, she was still able to pick up her 50th career win.

“Brittany’s meant the world to us these last couple of years,” Anderson said. “Today was a home tournament a chance for her to play and get her 50th career win. We’ll let the doctor determine whether she’s going to play the Fluid Four.”

The Wolverines will look to continue their impressive season in two weeks on a national scale as a once again complete and healthy squad.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.