The Michigan women’s water polo team packed up their swimsuits and flew to San Diego Friday- but not for the purpose of laying out on the beach. No, the fun in the sun had to wait until after the team had completed five games, including four in the California-San Diego Arena Invitational.
Sunday, the team faced No. 13 California-Santa Barbara, losing 6-5. The game against No. 17 Hartwick was cancelled.
On Saturday, the first day of the invitational, No. 10 Michigan (3-4) knocked off No. 16 California-Davis 8-6, breaking the Wolverines 16-game losing streak against West Coast teams.
The Wolverines got off to a shaky start – the Aggies led 2-1 in the first quarter – but sophomore Casey Kerney and freshman Megan Hausmann cleaned up with hat tricks in the final quarters.
Before the weekend’s games, the players and their coach, Matt Anderson, believed that Michigan needed to finally establish itself in the West as a competitive team.
“We need the attitude that we’re going to win these games and that we can win the games – then we will win these games,” said junior Julie Nisbet. “If we could treat other teams like (we do) Indiana, I think we could improve out West.”
Nisbet was referring to the team’s intense rivalry with Indiana.
“We’re going to the West Coast where every team is either on par or better than the teams on the East Coast, so we have to raise our game a level,” Anderson said.
At least in their game against California-Davis, the Wolverines did rise to that level.
However, the Maize and Blue were no match for the 49ers of No. 4 Long Beach State, losing 13-8. The first quarter of the game was what set back the Wolverines. They scored just two goals, compared to the 49ers’ five. The Wolverines were consistent with two goals in each remaining quarter, but Long Beach still outscored them.
“We played a favorite to win the national championship, and it was a 9-6 game after three quarters,” Anderson said. “The difference in (Long Beach’s) maturity and athletic ability separated them in the fourth, but the fact that we were in the game shows that we are slowly getting where we want to be.”
Considering the ranking of Long Beach State, losing by five points isn’t something Michigan was ashamed about.
To start off the weekend, Michigan lost 3-2 in a close game to No. 8 California-San Diego. Despite goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong’s 14 saves, and Hausmann and Nisbet’s two goals apiece, the Tritons could not be stopped.
“I am disappointed, but extremely happy about giving up just three goals to the No. 8 (team),” Anderson said, “We play with a lot of confidence defensively. As soon as our offense gets hammered down we are going to be a very strong team.”