Jan. 14, 2014
The No. 13-ranked University of Michigan water polo team (0-0) opens the 2013 season with the ninth annual Michigan Kick-Off this Saturday (Jan. 18) at Canham Natatorium. The Wolverines will open play against Iona at 12:30 p.m. before returning for a 6 p.m. non-conference slate against rival No. 15 Indiana.
For the first time, live stats will be provided online as all three games will be covered by a new online-statistics program. Developed by former Michigan water polo SID Ryan Sosin, the statistics program is a new invention in the world of water polo, allowing live scoring and play-by-play similar to programs for other sports.
Ann Arbor, Mich. Canham Natatorium
Michigan earned the No. 13 ranking in the 2014 Women's Varsity Preseason Top 20 poll and the No. 2 ranking in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Top 10 poll, both released Jan. 15. Michigan similarly finished 13th in the final poll of 2012. [ Complete Poll ]
Michigan owns a 32-19-1 record when hosting the Michigan Kick-Off/Invitational. The Kick-Off, originally tabbed as the Michigan Invitational and renamed in 2006, has been held at Canham Natatorium since 2002. The Wolverines are 15-19-1 against ranked opponents at the tournament and have knocked off a quartet of No. 7-ranked teams.
The friendly confines of Canham Natatorium will play host to the U-M season opener for the 13th straight campaign. Michigan is 8-5 all-time in home openers and 9-4 in season openers. The Wolverines are 102-29-1 all-time at Canham, including an 8-4 record last season.
With the graduation of two-time leading scorer Kiki Golden (2010-13), the Wolverines' top returning scorers are sophomores Presley Pender and Bryce Beckwith, who tallied 38 goals apiece. Pender also led the Wolverines in 2013 with 35 assists. Beckwith, who was named the 2013 CWPA Western Divsion Rookie of the Year, will likely miss this season with injury.
U-M will have a new starting goalkeeper this season after the graduation of four-year starter Alex Adamson. Sophomores Julie Campbell and Hayden Green earned time in net last season, with Campbell posting a 3.59 goals-against average and .651 save percentage through 13 appearances and Green recording a 0.74 GAA and .889 save percentage in five appearances. Freshman Emily Browning rounds out the goalie contingent as heralded newcomer.
The Wolverines welcome eight freshmen to the 2014 squad -- seven field players and one goalkeeper. The rookie class combined for 10 All-America citations and 12 all-state accolades during their prep careers, while six participated in the Junior Olympics, combining for seven Junior Olympic All-America nods. [ Meet the Wolverine Freshmen ]
Seniors Hathaway Moore, Kelsey Nolan and Audrey Pratt and junior Elizabeth Williamswill represent the Wolverines as captains for the 2014 season. Moore will serve as captain for the second straight season.
Michigan added Ryan Castle to the coaching staff in August. Castle came to Ann Arbor after serving three seasons as an assistant coach at division rival Hartwick College (2010-13). He previously served as an assistant coach at Arizona State University (2007-10) and has extensive international experience at the junior and senior levels, most recently serving as head coach with the Kazakhstan Women's Senior National Team at the 2011 FINA World Championships.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Iona -- The Gaels will seek their fourth straight bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 after capturing each of the last three MAAC Championships to garner automatic selection. Iona posted a 21-11 record last season and claimed eighth place at the national event. The Gaels return two of its leading three scorers from a season ago -- senior Amy Olsen, who led the team with 102 goals and 26 assists, and senior Erika Lauraitis, who posted 68 goals and 2 assists. Senior goalkeeper Marisa Gaynor also returns; she recorded a 9.98 goals-against average and .495 save percentage in 2013. Michigan leads the all-time series against Iona, 5-0, earning a 10-7 decision in the latest meeting during the 2012 season.
Indiana -- The Hoosiers will also kick off their 2014 campaign this weekend, looking to improve on their 21-13 record and third-place CWPA Eastern finish from a year ago. Indiana also claimed the 2013 CWPA Western Division championship, breaking an 11-year Michigan stronghold on the title. Indiana returns two of its three leading scorers, including top 2013 scorer senior Shae Fournier, who tallied 66 goals and 38 assists, and senior Rebecca Gerrity, who posted 38 goals and 15 assists. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault led IU last season with a 7.75 goals-against average and .505 save percentage. Michigan owns a 33-10-1 advantage in the all-time series against rival Indiana and claimed two of three meetings last season, including a 6-5 decision in the Eastern semifinals.
2013 IN REVIEW
The Wolverines posted a 20-14 record last season, surging in the second half with wins in 16 of their last 20 games en route to third place in the CWPA Western Division and a runner-up finish at the CWPA Eastern Championship. Four different players posted more than 30 goals, most notably Kiki Golden, who led the team with 59 goals, while Alex Adamson headlined the U-M goalkeepers with 20 wins and 206 saves. [ 2013 Statistics ]
Friday, Jan. 31 -- at Santa Clara (Santa Clara, Calif.), 3 p.m. PST
Sat-Sun., Feb. 1-2 -- at Stanford Invitational (Palo Alto, Calif.)