Michigan Water Polo wins CWPA Championship, going back to NCAAs

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on April 30th, 2017 at 3:58 PM

Michigan bulldozed through the regular season with a 9-0 record, outscoring opponents 128-40 en route to a 3rd straight CWPA Regular Season Championship.

But the title that matters more is the CWPA Tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. A 10 team tournament where 7 of the bids are automatics, with 3 at-larges that always go to the best teams from the West coast leagues that did not win their conference. 

#7 ranked and 1 seed Michigan beat 9 seed Saint Francis (PA) by 20 goals on Friday in the quarterfinals. SFU is in their first year as a Varsity program and it showed in their 22-2 defeat.

Harvard upset host and rival Indiana in the quarterfinals, so Michigan faced #20 ranked and 5 seed Harvard yesterday, winning 11-5 in a game where the suffocating defense dominated like it usually does against teams from this league.

Today's championship game was between Michigan and #9 ranked, 2 seed Princeton. Michigan surprisingly beat a solid Princeton a month ago pretty handily, 14-6.

Today's game was a different story. Princeton actually scored first and led 1-0 after the 1st quarter.

Michigan took the lead in the 2nd quarter on a nice power play goal by senior star Allison Skaggs that banged the bottom of the crossbar to go in. The Wolverines would score again on a Caroline Anderson PP goal shortly after, to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.

A great defensive game. Both goalies were great in this one. Princeton's goalie actually made first team all-tournament.

The game changed in the 3rd quarter when Princeton's coach was ejected on a red card for getting on the refs too much during the game. At that point it was a 3-3 tie.

Michigan would then take the lead on a great no-look backhand goal by Danielle Johnson to up 4-3.

Michigan took a commanding 5-3 lead when Anderson scored on a play where the Princeton goalie was for some reason playing 4 feet out of the net. A commanding lead because the Michigan defense tightened up.

Michigan allowed Princeton to score one goal with just 5 seconds left to burn time off. After a goal, the team who gave up a goal gets possession. So the clock ran out and Michigan held on.

Michigan wins the 2017 CWPA Tournament Championship. The second straight title for the Wolverines and the 7th in program history.

The Australian freshman Maddy Steere made First Team All-Tournament, with Danielle & Kim Johnson and goalie Heidi Ritner taking Second Team honors.

Allison Skaggs was named Tournament MVP with coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi taking home the Coach of the Tournament honor.

Michigan is going back to the NCAA Tournament after being the first team East of the Rocky Mountains to ever reach the Final Four last season.

Michigan will take in a 28-8 record to Indianapolis for the 3-game tournament. The NCAA selection show will be tomorrow at 8pm. 



South Bend Wolverine

April 30th, 2017 at 4:28 PM ^

Great win, and nice write-up, WD!  The water polo team reminds me a lot of the softball team, in that they have managed to have high-level success in a sport where the odds are stacked against Midwest teams big time.  Would love to see them bring home a national crown like softball did!


April 30th, 2017 at 4:37 PM ^

I used to play water polo ... but my horse drowned.

OK, with that obligatory old joke out of the way, congratulations to UM's water polo champs, and best of luck in the NCAA tourney.

I only see this sport every four years during the Olympics, but I always marvel at it. How the hell does anybody manage to play this game? Swim/tread water/swim/tread water etc. etc. etc. Even when in the best shape of my life, they'd have been pulling me off the bottom of the pool after five minutes.


April 30th, 2017 at 6:53 PM ^

Most people don't realize just how violent the game is. It's an all out brawl every time the ball gets in front of the net. In four years of high school water polo, I was the direct cause of at least 3 broken noses. (At least 2 were unintentional) I can't count how many times I had an opponent kick off my body because there is no wall to push off of when you change direction. Kicking, punching, grabbing, holding, scratching... in fact, one of the ref's most important jobs is a pregame inspection of finger and toenails.

In short: Its the greatest sport in the world. Congrats, ladies.


May 1st, 2017 at 1:12 AM ^

I needed this post. Kept getting highlights on social media and wondered, "What is the CWPA, the NIT of water polo?" Thanks for clearing that up.