Seattle, WA -- The University of Washington Women's Water Polo teams went 4-0 and 1-3 as they hosted the Northwest Division opener this past weekend at Rodgers High School Aquatic Center in Puyallup, WA.
Although this marks the third tournament of the year for the Huskies, this is the first tournament for the Northwest Division. Participating teams were: the University of Oregon "A" and "B", Oregon State University, Western Washington University, and Portland State University, as well as the University of Washington "A" and "B" teams (Purple and Gold respectively.)
The Huskies Purple team started off the tournament with a 24-2 win over Portland State, including 8 goals for the Dawgs in the first 5 minutes of the match.
Next up, were the Huskies Development team (Gold) who got to open the season with a tough match-up against division rival, University of Oregon "B". At the half, the Huskies were up 4-1, with 2 goals from freshmen, Sophia Ko (#13, Puyallup, WA) and single tallies from Julia Harry (#2, Maple Valley, WA) and Katie Snell (#8, Cupertino, CA). But a second half resurgence and a last minute goal in the 4th put the Ducks over the Huskies 5-4. This game was just a preview of what will be a great rematch in two weeks when the Ducks host the second tournament of the Northwest Division.
A few hours later, it was the Huskies Purple team's turn to take on Oregon "B". Despite a focus on defensive work rather than goal scoring, the Huskies came out swinging once again, taking a 6-0 lead in the first quarter behind Northwest Division Player of the Week, Karli Stevenson (#4, Tacoma, WA), and co-captain, Mary Elizabeth Ward (#6, San Rafael, CA). The Huskies did not allow the Duck's "B" team to score until 4 minutes into the third quarter. The final score was 20-4 with Ward taking team player of the game honors.
Immediately after, it was the Gold team's turn again, who were hoping to show their resolve after the tough loss earlier. The fired up Dawgs, were able to start hot with a strong counterattack behind co-captains, Arielle Howell (#6, Olympia, WA) and Caroline Lorentzen (#14, Seattle, WA) as well as newcomer, Tiara Adler. The Huskies Development team was able to secure their first win of the tournament by outlasting Western Washington University, 9-5.
The second day of the tournament started with what would be the toughest game of the weekend for the Huskies Senior team; a rematch from last year's championship game against the division runner-up, the Oregon State Beavers. But the Huskies defense and counterattack proved to be too much for them, as the Huskies would go on to win 16-3, including 0 goals allowed on 7 ejections as well as 16 steals for the game. Stevenson went on to score 7 goals and 3 assists to earn team Player of the Game honors.
Next up, it was the Huskies Gold team who once again had a tough match up, this time against Oregon "A". The Huskies Development team tried to limit the Ducks counterattack and get several defensive stops. The first quarter turned out to be a successful one as the Huskies limited Oregon to 4-0 despite 3 5-meter penalty shots in the first 2 minutes of the game. But the 16 ejections and the Ducks proved to be too much for the young Huskies team who lost 22-2, with the two goals coming from freshman, Sydney Toole (#11, Laguna Niguel, CA).
The final match for both teams, would be each other, as the last game of the tournament was Husky Purple vs Husky Gold. The game provided a wonderful opportunity for the two teams to slow down and work on their respective focuses from practice, in a tournament setting. Husky Gold did a tremendous job shutting down the more experienced Purple team on their man-up offense, while the Purple team got to try new drives and offensive motion they were experimenting with over the past couple of weeks. The Husky Purple team was able to demonstrate their depth with 9 goals coming from 7 different players including a rare field opportunity and 2 goals for goalie, Lizzy Lipps (#1, Menlo Park, CA). Husky Gold was able to respond with a tremendous outside shot from freshman newcomer, Katie Snell (#8, Cupertino, CA).
All in all, the Huskies had a tremendously successful weekend.
"This first tournament was great for the Gold team," said first year co-captain, Arielle Howell. "We've grown a lot as players from last year and gained amazing new teammates. I'm excited for us to play more together and develop more cohesion as we continue to develop throughout the season."
In this tournament the Gold team earned: 22 steals, 8 ejections, 12 assists, 32 saves, and 14 goals despite the incredibly tough match-ups they had this weekend. A great first tournament for a team filled with freshmen talent and new players to the sport and who's gunning for a top 4 finish in the Northwest this season.
Purple team co-captain, Mary Elizabeth Ward had this to say about the weekend:
"It was great to finally have the chance to play some teams from our own division and get a feel for what we need to do to have success in our division this year and get back to national championships. We communicated, we stuck to a game plan and it showed as we were incredibly successful in our games. I'm really excited for the next divisional tournament to get a chance at the other teams we haven't played yet."
In two weeks the Huskies senior team will get a chance to square off against their main divisional rival Oregon A, who sat on top of the division for 11 years until the Huskies ended the streak two years ago with their first Division Championship since 2003 and repeated again last season.
"I'm really proud of everyone on the team for stepping up this weekend and working hard both in and out of the pool to make this tournament a success," quipped Purple co-captain, Kellie MacPhee, (#2, Encinitas, CA). "Our main focus over the next two weeks will be Oregon A and making sure we continue to work hard and focus on getting better."
For the weekend, the Gold team finished with: 81 steals (a team record), 18 ejections earned, 61 assists, 50 saves, and 69 goals.
As of now, the Huskies are looking to have another stellar year with the ultimate goal of a top-4 finish at the Collegiate Club National Championships, which the Huskies are hosting this year at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, OR May 4-6th.