Water Polo Heads to National Championships

By Alex Edel

The women’s club water polo team will travel to Minneapolis, Minn. on Friday, May 3 to compete in the collegiate water polo championships. This follows their win in the New England championships three weeks ago. During the three-day competition, the players will compete against teams from all across the U.S.

In order to receive this bid, the women knew they had to win their division, which includes teams such as Yale, Dartmouth, Boston College and Williams. The championships were held on April 13-14 here at Middlebury. The Panthers started the championships off with a close 11-9 win against Williams before blowing away Boston College and Northeastern to bring them to the finals.

“Going into the championships, we knew we were one of the top teams,” said tri-captain Olivia Noble ’13.  “We had only lost to Dartmouth in a close triple-overtime game and felt pretty confident about our chances.  Our goal this whole season has been to win our division, so we went in ready to fight.”

After having lost to Dartmouth earlier in the season, their final game against the Big Green would be crucial to their admittance into the championship tournament. Despite a close game, Middlebury came away victorious with a 5-3 win. Because the team had lost to Dartmouth 5-4, this win came with a bigger goal differential, making the Panthers the top seed in the New England conference.

“It wasn’t an easy road, and we had some really tough games, but we pulled it off in the end,” said Noble.  “We have a really deep bench, which is our strength against other teams, so that definitely helped.”

Middlebury last attended the championships in 2011, which were hosted by Notre Dame. Last year was the Panthers’ first season in a new league that features many more Division I schools.

Middlebury will play its first game of the tournament on Friday, May 3 against the powerhouse team of Notre Dame. In 2011 Notre Dame finished seventh in the tournament while last year they finished 12th.

Despite being matched up against a tough team, the Panthers hope to advance to the round of eight. Other teams that they could come up against include Michigan, UCLA and Cal Poly.

While the team hopes to make it to the round of eight, it is really overall improvement that matters most to the team.

“No matter where any one member of the team starts, our primary goal is to get better both as a unit and as individuals,” said fellow tri-captain Amanda Mulligan ’13. “From there, things just seemed to fall in place.”

For many of the seniors on the team this will mark the final tournament of their collegiate water polo careers.

“As a senior, I’ve been to Nationals with the team before, but this trip is by far the most meaningful,” said Noble. “We won our division against some really tough competition, so we definitely feel we deserve to be there.  I’ve been playing water polo for a really long time, and ending my career with a trip to Nationals is all I could have asked for.”

The games will all be live-streamed at collegiatewaterpolo.com

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