Seattle, WA -- The #10 University of Washington Women's Water Polo Club went 2-2 this past weekend at the Davis Winter Invitational, in Davis, CA.
The tournament was hosted by last year's national champions, the #1 UC Davis Aggies. The invitational draws some of the best teams from throughout California as well as the top teams from across the country. Last year the Huskies went 3-1 with wins against UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, and UC Davis B, with their only loss against UC Davis A.
This year, the Huskies took 18 players with them to the tournament including thirteen from the senior team and another five from the development team. This also included four new players competing in the invitational for the first time.
The Huskies had a tough first draw with a rematch against #1 UC Davis A on Saturday morning. Despite solid defense and 11 saves from freshman goalie, Shelby Smith (#1, San Diego, CA), in her first game as the starting UW goalie, the Huskies were never able to get their offense going. Final score was 2-9.
Later in the afternoon, the Huskies were given a chance to bounce back with a match against Fresno State, which would mark the first time the programs have ever played each other.
The Huskies once again struggled to get their offense going and even conceited 2 unnecessary way outside shots to be down 0-2 at the end of the first quarter. But once the team settled down they were able to go on a 6-1 run, and eventually finished the game 11-8 while also giving the new players an opportunity to show their growth and development in the second half.
After a slow start to the first day of action, the Lady Huskies were anxious to get going again on Sunday and were looking forward to their morning matchup against #8 UC Santa Barbara.
Strong defense showed up again, and the Huskies only conceited 1 goal for the entire first half while also running a great counterattack and drawing 8 ejections which lead to a 6-1 score at the half. By the 4th quarter leading 7-2, the Huskies were once again able to give everyone playing time and rest some of the starters. UW would go on to win 8-5 after a big performance from last year's CWPA Northwest Division MVP, and first year captain, Karli Stone (#4, Tacoma, WA). Karli led with 1 field block, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 goals.
The last match of the tournament for the Dawgs, would also be their toughest. The Lady Huskies faced off against the Los Altos United Peacocks, a masters team from the greater San Jose area featuring mostly ex-NCAA players from Davis, San Jose State, Stanford and Cal. Despite the challenge, the Huskies made as many opportunities as they could; securing a shot after every offensive possession in the first half. The Huskies converted on both player-up opportunities as well as a great goal from outside, all from senior captain, Mary Elizabeth Ward (#6, San Rafael, CA). However, the amount of experience and talent on the Peacocks was still too much and the Huskies would go on to lose 3-16 to close out the tournament 2-2.
Despite the tough score to end the tournament, the Huskies played with plenty of heart and impressed the coaches as the team gets ready to begin division play February 16th.
Coach Rudy Ramirez's takeaway from the weekend was that this might be the most talented team he's had in his 5 years at the helm. "Both Greg [Mercer] and I are super impressed with this team despite the slow start to the weekend," said Ramirez. "We are really excited about the 4 new players who have already made an immediate impact with the senior team; especially our new goalie, Shelby Smith, who had big shoes to fill in replacing our All-American goalie from last year, Lizzy. She [Smith] has shown she is ready for the challenge and made a big statement with her play this weekend, despite only learning the goalie position three months ago."
The coaches stressed offense and communication will be the emphasis over the next month as they get ready to compete in Corvallis, OR on February 16th for the CWPA Northwest Division opener. Stay tuned for the roster announcements and upcoming CWPA national polls.