The women’s water polo team (8-0) brings its undefeated record and No. 1 seed in the New England region to the New England Championship at Wesleyan University this weekend.
A bid for the national championship will be on the line for the Bulldogs. Last weekend, the squad fine-tuned at MIT.
The nationally ranked No. 6 collegiate club Bulldogs entered last weekend’s tournament — the season’s second league tournament — at 4-0 and finished with an 8-0 record. Bates, Boston University, MIT, and Wellesley all fell to Yale.
Head coach Jennifer Halverson DIV ’03 credits the successful games to the team’s California training over spring break.
“It was good to get so many wins, because we had gone to California over spring break and competed at a high level and didn’t win so often,” she said. “But we stayed playing at that higher level, and it was nice to show the teams that didn’t go what we had learned. It paid off.”
The Bulldogs challenged one of their perennial competitors, MIT, and won 10-8 in overtime. Galen Main ’06 had six goals, two assists and one steal in the win. Joanna Busquets ’03 had four goals.
In a 13-2 win over Bates, Main scored five goals and had one assist and four steals. Busquets had four goals, Alexis Slater ’03 had one goal and seven steals, and Giovanna Masci ’04 scored one goal.
Yale beat Wellesley 14-3 with goals by Thayer Hardwick ’06 and Monica Mix ’06. Clark led the Bulldogs to a 13-4 victory over Boston University with five goals.
This weekend at Wesleyan, the Elis will face many of the same teams and hope for similar success. The Bulldogs last won the New England Championship in 2001 against MIT in sudden death overtime. Last year the Bulldogs lost to MIT 10-9 at the championship tournament.
“We’re likely to play MIT again,” Halverson said. “It’s usually a close game, but if successful, we would play for the championship on Sunday. If not successful, we will still play for third place on Sunday.”
The Bulldogs will play host Wesleyan first. Depending on the outcome of the first round, Yale will then face MIT or Boston University. Yale will meet either Dartmouth or Massachusetts Sunday, depending on Saturday’s results.
“We’ve played all the opponents and been able to beat them in the past,” co-captain Masci said. “But it will still involve a lot of teamwork and focus.”
One of the Bulldogs’ main strengths is stealing the ball, Halverson said. But the team’s aggressive play often earns Yale penalties. While training during spring break, the Elis found themselves matched against similarly aggressive teams. Bringing that level of play back to New England has helped the team remain undefeated.
“East Coast play is different from the West Coast in that [officiating] plays a large role,” Halverson said. “Play out in California is different and a little more aggressive. Sometimes, the refs feel bad for the other team when we get too many steals.”
Main, Slater and Busquets led Yale in steals this past weekend at MIT, combining for 35 steals in the four games.
“My greatest effort is trying to teach the girls to be confident going into games and to get them out there,” Halverson said. “But overall, our team has been having so much fun.”