Being dubbed one of the elite water polo squads in the East was quite an honor for the Wolverines.

But finishing first among the top teams was the real prize.

This weekend’s Elite Six tournament pitted the Wolverines against five other prominent water polo programs in the East. Though West Coast schools traditionally dominate the sport, Michigan proved it deserves its No. 12 national ranking.

Michigan (12-9) made a statement by finishing undefeated at the tournament in College Park, Md. The weekend’s four victories give the Wolverines a six-game win streak.

“Without a doubt, we’re playing our best water polo of the season so far,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson said.

On Saturday, the Wolverines first defeated host Maryland, 9-4. Then, Michigan topped CWPA rival and No. 15 Hartwick College, 10-6, to earn its first victory over the Hawks in three years.

Sunday yielded similar results for Michigan as it downed Brown, 19-12, and No. 18 Princeton, 7-6.

Michigan and Indiana were the only two teams to finish the tournament undefeated, setting the stage for their March 16 matchup at Canham Natatorium.

Anderson credited Michigan’s recent success to its defense.

“Everyone wants to come out and put the ball in the back of the net,” Anderson said. “But it takes a real effort to come out and play real defense, and we’re doing that.”

In four of its last five games, Michigan’s defense has held opponents to six goals or fewer.

Much of this success can be credited to junior goalkeeper Brittany May, who made 11 saves on Saturday and held Princeton to just six goals on Sunday.

“We’re all just working together better as a team,” May said. “I’m more comfortable with all the girls, and that makes it easier for me to do my job.”

The defensive surge was by no means a one-woman effort. Solid performances by junior Sharayah Hernandez and sophomore Leah Robertson on the offensive side of the ball have lessened the pressure on the defensive end. This weekend, Robertson became just the 17th player in Michigan history to net 50 goals.

“The girls are really beginning to understand their role on the team,” Anderson said. “Now, we can really play our game.”

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