Feb. 7, 2013
TRITON INVITATIONAL (Tournament Central)
Saturday, Feb. 9 -- vs. Long Beach State (San Diego, Calif.), 12:30 p.m. PST
Saturday, Feb. 9 -- vs. No. 7 San Diego State or Santa Clara (San Diego, Calif.), 4:30 p.m. or 5:50 p.m. PST
Sunday, Feb. 10 -- Bracket Play (San Diego, Calif.)
The No. 10-ranked University of Michigan water polo team (1-6) will return to California this weekend to participate in the 16-team Triton Invitational, hosted by UC San Diego in San Diego, Calif. The Wolverines will open play against Long Beach State (0-0) at 12:30 PST on Saturday (Feb. 9) before facing either No. 7 San Diego State (5-1) or Santa Clara (3-4) at 4:30 or 5:50 p.m. at the Canyonview Pool. Michigan will wrap up the tournament with bracket play on Sunday (Feb. 10).
The Wolverines trail, 7-2, in the all-time series against Long Beach State. U-M claimed the most-recent meeting, however, with a 6-0 shutout on Feb. 12, 2011.
Six of Michigan's first seven games will be against top-10 opposition. U-M has faced the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 8 (twice) nationally ranked teams.
Fifteen of U-M's 26 players are California natives.
Senior Kiki Golden was named CWPA Western Division Player of the Week honors last week after posting eight steals, a pair of field blocks and four goals during the Wolverines' West Coast trip. It was her second straight weekly citation after claiming the league's Player of the Week honor in the first week. Golden holds 10 total weekly honors from the league office, earning three Defensive Player of the Week honors plus three Player of the Week and three Rookie of the Week accolades.
Freshman Emily Sejna scored a hat trick -- and her first career goals -- in the Wolverines' game at California on Jan. 26. It was U-M's third hat trick on the season. Seniors Kiki Golden and Lauren Colton both tallied hat tricks in the Wolverines' senior opener against Colorado State. Golden boasts 17 career hat tricks, while Colton owns 12.
Six Wolverine freshmen have already registered their first collegiate goals this season. Bryce Beckwith headlines the group with five goals, while Presley Pender and Emily Sejna own three goals apiece. Kelly Martin, Julia Riemersma and Gabriella Serure also scored in the opening two weekends.
With 12 goals over the season's first seven games, senior Kiki Golden upped her career goal tally to 160 and moved to fourth place among U-M's all-time scoring leaders. She is 50 goals shy of the third spot, currently held by Alison Mantel (210, 2008-11). Shana Welch (2004-07) holds the U-M's program record with 297 career goals.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Adamson already owns 55 saves on the season and with her effort on the California trip, upped her career save total to 486 to move to second among U-M's all-time leaders in the category. U-M assistant coach Betsey Armstrong (2002-05) owns the school record with 1,267 career saves.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: How successful was the water polo performance at Monday's annual Mock Rock competition?
A: I'd say this year was the best since I'd been here at least. We teamed up with the men's lacrosse team. We weren't as funny as we wanted to be the last two years, so we figured that if we brought in a bunch of guys, we could be goofy and get the crowd going. We did a performance of Tarzan and Jane. All the water polo girls were Jane and the guys were Tarzan. We also had a couple girls dressed in gorilla suits and another in a banana suit. It was a pretty funny act. The freshmen really pulled through; they were our stars.
Q: With so many freshmen on the team, do think the upperclassmen are doing a good job of stepping up, leading and helping them along?
A: We definitely did a lot at the beginning of the season. The freshmen are half the team, so we really had to show them how we do things here at Michigan. I'd say now that we're into our season, and we're already past the midpoint in the school year, the freshmen have started to figure it out. We're more of a cohesive team than split into freshmen and upperclassman. Everything feels more equal and balanced. They know what they're doing, take initiative and do it themselves.
Q: Do you feel like you're all starting to click in the pool as well?
A: I think that with Hathaway's (Moore) injury, it's been a little different for the starting group to figure out how they're going to play -- along with losing a couple seniors to graduation. But for the most part, I think that now that we've had several games and several scrimmages among ourselves, we're figuring out what players mesh well together in the water, who is good coming off the bench and just the various roles.
Q: Is it hard to figure all those things out while you're playing top-10 opponents every game?
A: Yes, it's a little difficult at times. But there are other times when things were working well, we'd try to replicate them and work from what we knew we can do instead of worrying about who we were playing. No matter who were playing, we'd try to stick with the same plays and the things we had focused on in practice.
Q: On being a Michigan native.
A: I'd definitely like to see the sport grow more here in the Midwest. I've gone to California for a couple of summers to train out there, and it's a whole different game out there. I think we need to get people playing younger out here, and we need to just make it more popular. It's hard when you're not on the ocean or it's not warm. Water polo is not the first, go-to sport. With Betsey [Armstrong], an Olympian, coming back to the area, I think that will help gain some attention. We need to start up more high school programs. That would help garner more interest.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines dropped three decisions to top-10 opponents on their California road trip, falling to No. 1 Stanford (11-2, Jan. 25), No. 9 San Jose State (9-4, Jan. 26) and No. 4 California (14-7, Jan. 26). Michigan hung close with both the Cardinal and the Aztecs through the opening half before struggling to maintain pace in the second. Senior Kiki Golden scored four goals -- at least one per game -- while freshman Emily Sejna notched her first collegiate hat trick in the road finale. [ Recaps: Stanford | San Jose State/California ]
Saturday, Feb. 23 -- at Hoosier Invitational (Bloomington, Ind.)