Women's water polo gears up for promising season
Thursday August 23, 2001 |
The Arizona women's club water polo team is a program on the rise.
After a best-ever fourth-place finish at the Collegiate Water Polo Association nationals in 2000, the Wildcat women just missed another top-10 finish last year, taking 11th place at last year's CWPA tournament in Oxford, Ohio.
The team cruised through the conference season, compiling a record of 39-5 and claiming its second consecutive Southwest Division title. Last year's conference championship was also the third in four years.
This year, head coach Jeff Witmore hopes to bring home something the program has been lacking since 1981 - a national title.
"I think if we get a couple more key recruits, we could probably take a run at a national championship," Witmore said.
The squad lost a pair of leaders in multiple letter-winners Anna Santoro and Lois Irvin - both graduated in May - but returns last year's CWPA Southwest Division Player of the Year Stacy Mitchell, as well as 2-meter offensive standouts Melinda Tucker and Edie Gobel. All three earned Southwest Division all-conference honors last season.
Mitchell was just as optimistic as her coach.
"We won (the Southwest) conference last year and our goal is to improve upon our placing at nationals," Mitchell said. "We definitely have the opportunity to win a national title."
Gobel said the team depends on Mitchell for leadership.
"Stacy's pretty much our leader", Gobel said. "(Irvin) is gone, and Stacy was one step down from her, so she's in charge. Everyone looks up to her. She has a lot of responsibility."
Gobel also encouraged anyone interested in the sport to come try out.
"Anybody can come out - it's a lot of fun," Gobel said. If you like being in the water and want to learn something new, just come out and try. It's really easy to learn if you're willing."
Witmore encouraged anyone in search of excitement to come check out a match.
"Water polo is a very photogenic sport," Witmore said. "It's very fun to watch."
Women's club volleyball tryouts begin Aug. 28 at 3 p.m in the Student Recreation Center pool. The team will compete in a 3-way meet with Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University Sept. 22. The first home tournament is Oct. 6-7 at the Rec Center pool.