As most everyone knows, the Women's Water Polo season is only 6 months away. Coming off last season's 32-9 record ended by a loss to Cal in the playoffs, it's about time for us to take a look forward. The team returns 2 of their top 3 scorers from last season. With no published schedule yet this is clearly a fruitless activity but what is everyone's prediction for the year? Mine is 35-6.
1st year head coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi has had a pretty impressive debut for Michigan, giving Michigan its first CWPA Regular Season Championship with an 8-1 record and a win over rival Indiana that gave Michigan a share of the title.
This is how Michigan fared this CWPA regular season-
|3/25||at Notre Dame College||W 20-2|
|4/4||vs #13 Indiana||W 13-12 2OT|
|4/11||George Washington||W 18-8|
|4/11||at #10 Princeton||L 7-9|
|4/12||#20 Harvard||W 12-9|
Barring a massive upset in the IU-NDC game, there will be three-way tie for the CWPA Regular Season Championship involving Michigan, Princeton and Indiana.
Since each team went 1-1 against the other, the seeding for the CWPA Tournament is currently TBA. The tournament will be held at Princeton next weekend.
Being the CWPA is essentially a mid-major league as no team from outside the state of California has won the NCAA THIRD PLACE GAME, much less a National Championship, it's a one bid league. The CWPA Tournament Champion will head to the NCAA Tournament.
Tournament crown or not, this has been a very impressive debut season for Dr. Leonardi.
After the resignation (or forcing out, depending who you talk to) of Matt Anderson, Michigan has hired their 3rd coach in the program's 14-year history.
Dr. Marcelo Leonardi
He spent 5 years at Cal State Northridge, going 115-64 with four 20-win seasons as well as finishing in the Top-20 every year.
Very key to get someone from California. The Water Polo program was already one of the best outside the state of California, hopefully Doc can take it to the next level with good recruiting in the Golden State.
No school outside California has won the NCAA THIRD PLACE GAME, much less a National Championship.
Michigan has a chance to win as many as 4 separate conference championships on Sunday.
Men's Tennis: #23 ranked Michigan (16-8) takes on #4 ranked Ohio State (30-2) in Columbus at noon in the finals of the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State won the Big Ten regular season championship and Michigan placed third. Michigan upset second seed Minnesota Saturday, 4-3, to reach the final. Ohio State beat Michigan 4-0 last week in their only meeting this season.
Women's Tennis: #6 Michigan (21-4) takes on #15 Northwestern (17-8) in Bloomington, Indiana, also at noon in the finals of the Big Ten tournament. Michigan won the Big Ten regular season championship, Northwestern was third. Michigan beat Northwestern 4-3 in their regular season match.
Softball: #9 Michigan (40-8) takes on #20 Nebraska (35-11) in Lincoln in a regular-season matchup with the chance to clinch the Big Ten regular season championship. If Michigan wins one of its four remaining games, Michigan will clinch their 5th consecutive Big Ten regular season championship and the #1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. This game is on the Big Ten Network at 3:00 pm (tape delayed).
Water Polo: #18 Michigan (20-13) hosts #11 Princeton (25-5) in the championship of the CWPA Eastern Conference at Canham Natatorium at 4:30 pm, with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament (and at least 25 points in the Directors Cup) at stake. #4 seed Michigan upset #1 seed Indiana 6-5 on Saturday to reach the championship. #2 seed Princeton is the defending CWPA Eastern champion. Tickets are $10 for the general public and are free for students with a valid M Card.
A clutch conference win on the road for the Michigan Women's Water Polo team! Junior Kelsey Nolan's hat trick helped power M to a comeback OT win over our biggest conference rival, Indiana. (Indiana is the only other B1G team in our conference/division for water polo.)
2 years ago, a group of us made the 6 or 7 hour journey down to Bloomington to witness another 1-goal victory over the hated Hoosiers, so this brought back some good memories. If Michigan wins the CWPA Western Division championship, the CWPA Eastern Conference championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament is at stake at home in Canham Natatorium the last weekend of April.
Since dropping a pair of games on February 13th, Michigan's water polo team has been absolutely unstoppable, racking up an astounding 20 straight wins, including 5 against ranked opponents. Now ranked #6 in the nation, the team gets a bit of a break before heading off to the CWPA Eastern playoffs which run from April 29 through May 1, where they will seek their 4th straight Eastern title.
After that, NCAA playoffs will provide the final test of the season for the Wolverines, who should be making their 6th appearance and seeking their first title. Michigan's water polo program, though younger than the softball one, is in some ways analogous to it. The power in the sport is heavily concentrated out West, primarily in California. A quick scan of the current rankings reveals something like 15 of the top 20 teams in the nation located in Cali. The Wolverines' success of the years has been achieved against substantial regional odds. Now it is time to make that parallel with softball one bit better and start adding some titles!
With all the MGoBoard softball love, a shout out to another of the minor sports seems in order. After stumbling a bit out of the gate to a 2-2 start (both losses coming to top 4 teams), Michigan has scorched the California earth, amassing a 10-2 record, while playing unranked opposition only twice.
Tonight was an historic occasion for the Wolverines, as two players put their names into the Michigan record books. Senior Alison Mantel set the all time UM assists record, with 3 against Marist and 1 against Long Beach State. Sophomore goalie Alex Adamson, meanwhile, became the first-ever Michigan goalkeeper to backstop a complete-game shutout, as Michigan rolled Long Beach State, 6-0 (the 4 previous shotouts in UM history were combined efforts).
Tough opposition looms, as tomorrow Michigan is guaranteed to face two more top-ten opponents, including a possible rematch with #3 UCLA, who handed UM a tough 6-5 loss earlier in the year.
Water polo is a lot like softball, being a sport where the balance of power tilts heavily to California/West Coast teams, but Michigan is intent on cracking into the nation's elite. We've made several nice tourney runs, and have dominated Eastern water polo for some time. A national title is the next step, and it is only a matter of time!
While we anxiously await the announcement of the new [Greg Mattison] defensive [Greg Mattison] coordinator [Greg Mattison] and maintain an open tab with TomVH's Twitter feed (you're not doing that? Sure, you're not.) to find out about the latest (de)commitments, take the opportunity to flip through the Winter 2011 edition of M Magazine, the Michigan Athletic Department's official souvenir program.
This edition contains several nice features:
- Wolverines to Watch (Veronica Hicks, Basketball; Adrienne Bicek, Swimming; A.J. Treais, Hockey; Chris Cameron, Gymnastics; Jillian Smith, Track and Field; Dan Madwed, Swimming)
- The Big Chill at the Big House
- Water Polo’s Senior Plan: Winning it All, Together
- Why? (Trish Wilson, Gymnastics)
- The Peace Corps: It All Started Here
- Carved in Stone
- The Two Sides of Denard Robinson
- Ask the Athlete
What I learned:
- Michigan has some truly amazing student athletes in many more sports than just football, men's basketball and hockey (in truth, I already knew that).
- Denard Robinson is awesome (see above).
- Evan Smotrycz has never had a job (other than playing basketball). Srsly.
- The stone carver who fashioned the replacement "M" medallions for Yost Ice Arena is very skillful. Check out the video embedded in the online magazine that details the process. Very cool, indeed.
- Michigan will host the 2011 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championships at Canham Natatorium in May. Here's hoping it creates a huge home pool advantage for the team.
- Trish Wilson is a warrior of the first order and a true Wolverine.