With friends and family watching, the No.7 Michigan water polo team clinched its ninth consecutive Collegiate Water Polo Association Western Division title on Senior Night.
And in a fitting twist, the seniors’ last home game was a victory over arch-rival Indiana.
The Wolverines blew out Gannon 17-3 earlier Saturday to get to the final match against the No. 15 Hoosiers (19-10). Michigan could have used some of that offensive domination in the second game, as goals were hard to come by against a tough Indiana defense. Freshman goalie Alex Adamson was once again called on to tame a high-powered Indiana offense, and once again she answered the bell.
“The team and the way the defense plays kind of sets the tone for how I play,” Adamson said. “When they go out with that intensity it is easy for me to feed off what they are doing.”
The Wolverines went on to beat Indiana 5-3 and climb closer to their NCAA hopes.
The affair began with coach Matt Anderson introducing the various seniors and listing their achievements during their careers, followed by the Men’s Glee Club, who ended up being a key factor in the match, leading the Canham Natatorium in the National Anthem.
The entire team was able to feed off of the intensity of the singers. Michigan’s eighth man sounded like a full Big House, and its eruptions of “pass” during Hoosier possessions visibly affected the athletes. Every exclusion penalty was met with the infamous hockey penalty chant, electrifying the coaches and players.
“We need to travel (the Glee Club),” Anderson said. “If I need to put bathing suits and caps on them then I’ll put them on the travel roster. They’re phenomenal. I told them we’re going to travel them.”
In her last home tournament, senior Leah Robertson once again came up huge. She lit the theoretical lamp four times, including a momentum-changing goal against Indiana.
“It’s nice to have my last home game to be a win against one of our biggest rivals, Indiana, and especially in such an important tournament,” Robertson said.
The big victory has a solemn undertone, though, as the season nears its end and the Wolverines lose friends and teammates.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult,” Anderson said about losing his senior class. “And that’s why I just hope that we’re blessed that we have three more weeks together.”
The team celebrated the Western Division title and the seniors’ last home game with a full-squad pool jump, including Anderson in his khakis and polo.
“You have to have markers that you reach and you have to feel good about reaching them,” Anderson said. “You cannot not want to celebrate when you’re doing something good. I tell the girls show your emotions (and) that’s how you play the game.”