The women’s club water polo team hosted the first-ever Ivy League Championship this weekend at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.
The Bulldogs finished an impressive third behind Harvard and Brown, the only two varsity teams present. The Bulldogs, who have consistently placed in the top 10 nationally for club water polo, started off the two-day event by beating Cornell 10-6 on Saturday. After defeating Columbia 12-4, the Elis faced off against Harvard’s varsity squad. The Crimson came away with a decisive 9-3 victory. However, goalie Lauren Taft-McPhee ’06 was not overly impressed by the Crimson.
“The game was a lot closer than the score indicated,” Taft-McPhee said. “We could have beaten [Harvard] on another day.”
One of Yale’s three head coaches, Vince Elizarde, also believed the score did not reflect his team’s effort.
“They got up on us by four real early on, and I saw it as a chance to let some of our reserves get in,” he said. “If we had stuck with our starters, it would have been a lot closer.”
Elizarde felt his team’s performance was a sign of things to come.
“For us to compete against some of these varsity teams was a tremendous step for us,” Elizarde said. “I felt all the phases of our game were impressive.”
Driver Monica Mix ’06 echoed her coach’s sentiments.
“We were really excited that we finished third,” she said. “To be the best club team there was a big accomplishment.”
Several Bulldogs took home All-Ivy tournament honors. Whole set Acacia Clark ’03 made the first team, while utilities Galen Main ’06 and Rebecca Voorhees ’07 made the second team.
However, what impressed the Yale players and coaches the most was the seamless way in which the inaugural tournament was run. The seven-team competition –with only Princeton’s squad absent — was organized by past and present Yale players, and took many hours of hard work and preparation.
“The tournament went without any flaws,” Elizarde said. “All the other teams were really impressed. I got a lot of comments about how well it was run.”
In addition, the Yale Athletics Department played a large role in helping out — a good sign for a sport that has been trying to gain varsity status for over two years.
“The support from the Athletics Department was amazing,” captain Mariko Yamaguchi ’05 said. “It was especially nice to have [Senior Associate Athletic Director] Barbara Chesler up there presenting the awards. It shows us that [the Athletics Department] really supports us.”
Nevertheless, the team’s greatest obstacle to attaining varsity status is a problem faced by many Yale teams — funding.
“[Funding] is ultimately the school’s decision,” Elizarde said. “[The Athletics Department] has definitely been more receptive recently. We’ve tried to schedule some tough opponents, including varsity teams, and we play triple the amount of games of other club teams. I know we come up at varsity meetings all the time. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
But their future status was not something the Bulldogs wanted to focus on after the tournament. They were more excited about the future of the current season.
“Our goal this year is to win the New England Championships,” Yamaguchi said. “And of course, we want to have fun. We can’t lose sight of that.”
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