Aquawomen Host Eastern Tourney
The Harvard women's water polo team's season is on the line this weekend as it hosts the Eastern Championships at Blodgett Pool.
The Crimson (12-2) will enter the tourney seeded third behind Slippery Rock and MIT and needs to have a good showing at Easterns to receive an invitation to the national tournament, which will be held at Navy in two weeks.
"We expect to do great," Tri-Captain Eileen Pratt said. "We're not facing anybody new in the first three games. Hopefully we'll end up playing Slippery Rock in the final game."
Slippery Rock State University (SRSU) is seeded first in the Eastern tournament, boasting a sparking record of 11-0.
SRSU Coach Dick Hunker is modest about his team's expectations. "We felt this would be a building year after losing three starters, including two All-Americans last year," Hunker said. Hunker has been coaching the Rockets for 18 years, but he doubles as chair of the Computer Science Department at SRSU. "Coaching is my recreation," Hunker said.
The Rockets won the Eastern Championship last year and took second in the NCAA with a 6-3 loss to UC-Santa Barbara in the national finals.
Slippery Rock has played and defeated all the teams in the tournament except for Harvard, Brown and MIT. "We except Harvard and MIT to come out top two in their bracket," Hunker said.
Slippery Rock lost its two starting two-meter players and its goalie last year to graduation, but the replacements have proven themselves as top competitors. Pam Peters and Erica Billish have come through for the Rockets in the hole, and freshman goalie Nancy Morris pulled off a rare shutout last week.
Bucknell (6-5) enters the playoffs seeded fifth in the Easterns. Last year the Bison took second in the Eastern tourney. "We hope to do the same, but it's going to be tougher this year," said Coach Marla Cautilli.
There's Goal In Them Thar Hills
Bucknell's top players are their tri-captains, two-meter players Sheilagh Vale and Nina Troglio and driver Julie MacDougall. All three were named to the All-East squad, and Vale was named an All-American in last year's Nationals.
The Bison have already played three teams in their tournament group during the regular season.
Queens enters tomorrow's tournament action as the fourth seed with an overall record of 5-2-1. "We placed third last year," said Coach Shelly Rothman, "but the competition is considerably stronger this year."
The Knights will miss some key players this weekend, but the team will still have scoring punch in Captain Maureen Travers, who is an offensive threat. Senior Karen Fortoul will be a factor on defense along with goalie Jeanette Mardella. Sharpshooter Linda Mancuso, a driver, is among the team's top scorers.
MIT has developed a tough water polo squad since the club was established eight years ago. The Engineers (8-3-1) are seeded second in the tournament. "We are hoping to place in the top four," said driver Lisa Freed. "We didn't make the final four last year because we were a rookie team. Now we're an experienced team."
MIT's top players include Captain Clea Waite and Jennie Snyder. "Jennie Snyder started playing last year, then she made the Junior National team over the summer, which is quite an accomplishment," Freed said.
The only blotches on the Engineers' record are three losses to cross-town rival Harvard and a tie against Queens.