The Michigan women’s water polo team harkened back 100 years Sunday to make their best impression of the most prolific football team in Wolverine history.
During Fielding Yost’s first five seasons as coach of Michigan, his teams were nicknamed “point-a-minute” offenses for their proficient scoring. But this weekend, the 17th-ranked Wolverines nearly duplicated the feat against Penn State-Behrend in Erie, Penn., by averaging a goal every 83 seconds in a 23-2 victory. They also convincingly defeated five other teams for a perfect 6-0 record.
The 23-goal outburst came just 20 hours after the Wolverines had tied the school record of 22 goals against Washington & Jefferson.
It was clear the mark would be within reach after Michigan (6-0 CWPA, 19-10 overall) opened the game with four separate players tallying two goals to help build a 12-0 lead.
In the second half, freshman Kimberly Gero scored two goals while also recording two saves in the game. The strongest performance came from freshman Sarah Davila who added onto her first half hat-trick with a fourth goal late in the game. Her seven points versus the Lions marked her career high in points for a single game. But it was another record that had the entire team excited after the game.
With less than a minute remaining, sophomore Carrie Stover scored the final goal of the game. The 23rd mark set the school record for the seven year-old program, but was not completely unexpected by Michigan coach Matt Anderson.
“I did believe the team was capable of this sort of success, but I wasn’t sure it would be this soon,” Anderson said. “So it doesn’t totally surprise me. We’re capable of good things, but it’s simply a question of when.”
“When” occurred on many occasions last weekend with Michigan outscoring its six opponents in CWPA conference play 110-35.
The nearly “point-a-minute” Wolverines were led by senior Shana Welch and sophomore Julie Hyrne, who combined for 38 goals on the weekend and kept alive their streak of recording a point in every single game this season.
“Purely from an offensive standpoint we were completely in sync,” Anderson said. “When a couple of the girls get it going, it becomes infectious for the entire team. (Hyrne and Welch) work so well together that teams cannot key on either one individually, and they have definitely taken advantage of that this season.”
This was a key weekend for Michigan as it had an underwhelming performance a week ago in Ann Arbor at Canham Natatorium. Their 3-2 record in the Wolverine Invitational left the team frustrated, but Michigan showed no ill-effects during their record-breaking weekend. With their play, the Wolverines solidified their position in the CWPA Western Division by clinching a one or two seed in the Western Division Championship in Ann Arbor on April 21 and 22.
The weekend that would make even Fielding Yost blush could prove to be the crossroads for the Wolverines in an up-and-down season thus far.
“We’ll see if this is a turning point for us,” Anderson said. “You never know with the team in general. We just need to make sure we don’t hit any more bumps the rest of the season.”