A Look Back at the 2010 Women's Water Polo Season
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UC Irvine won its second straight tournament title, Cal State Northridge and Pacific set school records for most victories, and five teams finished in the top 25 in the final Collegiate Water Polo Association poll to highlight a successful 2010 Big West women's water polo season.
Note: The 2010 CWPA All-American Team has not been announced as of Wednesday, June 9, but will be added to this recap once it is released.
UC Irvine Captures Second Straight Tournament Title
A UC Irvine squad comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores claimed the school’s second straight Big West Tournament title in the conference’s second year of women’s water polo existence.
The Anteaters entered as a No. 4 seed, defeating UC Davis (9-3), Pacific (10-7) and Cal State Northridge (12-11) in succession at the tournament. They finished with six wins in their last seven matches and turned a supposed rebuilding campaign into another championship season.
Freshman Jessy Cardey, the Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player, scored a total of six goals in the three wins. She also accounted for the game-winning score in the tightly contested final at Long Beach State’s Campus Pool. Junior Anteater Cortney Collyer recorded four goals in the championship to help UCI finish the season 15-14.
It was a disappointing finish for Cal State Northridge, yet an immensely successful season. The Matadors came up short in their quest to complete league play undefeated after a one-goal loss to Pacific in their final conference match. That outcome forged a regular season co-championship between Pacific and CSUN, and awarded a No. 1 tournament seed to the Tigers based on the head-to-head victory. However, the Matadors still amassed school records with 28 wins and a national ranking as high as No. 9. And although the Matadors lost a heartbreaking tournament final, they also made a winner out of interim head coach Marcelo Leonardi by capturing the regular season-co championship.
Championship Game Recap
Cortney Collyer scored four goals and tournament Most Valuable Player Jessy Cardey added three, including the game-winner, to lead UC Irvine to a 12-11 win over Cal State Northridge and the championship of the Big West Women’s Water Polo Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Anteaters (15-14) secured their second straight Big West Tournament championship in the process. UCI defeated UC Santa Barbara in the 2009 final. Cal State Northridge, which won a school record 28 games this season, finished 28-8 on the year in its first title game appearance.
Erin Kiene contributed two goals and Morgan Vickers made six saves to help the UCI effort.
Whitney Delgado scored five times and Alison Pierce netted a pair of goals to pace the Cal State Northridge offense. Goalkeeper Jillian Stapf stopped 11 UCI shots.
The two teams were tied 8-8 midway through the third period when UCI made a late push. Collyer scored on back-to-back goals at 3:23 and 1:57 to give the ‘Eaters a 10-8 cushion, and senior Kat Plummer scored her only goal of the game just 38 seconds into the fourth period to push the advantage to 11-8.
Delgado drew CSUN within 11-9 with her fifth goal at 5:29 on the clock, but Cardey notched what would prove to be the game-winner with a shot to the lower right corner. Her goal put UCI up 12-9. Kristin McLaughlin scored with 1:18 to go to trim CSUN’s deficit to two, 12-10, and Pierce found the back of the net with seven ticks on the clock for a 12-11 UCI lead.
Both teams put on a wicked offensive display in the first half, combining for 15 goals with UCI taking an 8-7 lead into the break. The Anteaters established their biggest leads at 5-2, 7-4 and 8-5, but each time the Matadors fought back. Delgado tossed in a shot from distance with 5.5 seconds left to pull CSUN within a goal.
Stapf made six saves in the third period to keep CSUN close, but the Matadors were outscored 2-1.
CSUN outscored UCI 3-2 in the fourth quarter to make a final push, but time ran out as UCI coaches and players dove into the pool to celebrate the championship.
Pacific’s Incredible Turnaround
Another intriguing story surrounding the 2010 women’s water polo season was the emergence of the Pacific program. After finishing 9-25 in 2009, the Tigers made amazing strikes under head coach Megan Thomson with a school record 23 victories this season. The +14 improvement in the win column translated to success in Big West play as the Tigers knocked off four of five opponents to claim a share of the regular season championship with Cal State Northridge.
Outstanding play from freshmen Jasmine Myles and Brooke Millar helped the Tigers secure the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament. Myles tied for the Big West lead in goals (80) and posted the highest goals per game (2.5) average, while Millar set the school single-season record for saves with 290. The Tigers sported a 13-game winning streak at one point, helping them to a final record of 23-10.
Stapf Concludes Remarkable Career For Cal State Northridge
Cal State Northridge senior goalkeeper Jillian Stapf capped off a brilliant career as the 2010 Big West Player of the Year. Stapf led the Big West in goals against average (6.64) and ranked third in saves per game (10.21). Her 283 saves was the fifth-most in single-season school history. Stapf finished her four years with a school record 1,302 saves. The two-time All-Big West First Team honoree tallied double-digit saves in 16 games in 2010. Stapf was one of only two seniors among the 15 players selected to the all-conference first and second teams.
The Big West had five teams finish in the final top 25 of the Collegiate Water Polo Association poll. For the second straight year, UC Irvine was the highest ranked Big West squad at No. 9 The Anteaters climbed seven spots from No. 16 after winning the Big West Tournament. Cal State Northridge, which broke into the nation’s top 10 for the first time in school history, ranking as high as No. 9, concluded the year at No. 13. Pacific was next at No. 14. The Tigers set a school record with a No. 12 ranking on April 21. UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis rounded out the list at No. 15 and No. 19, respectively.
Wright Selected To USA Water Polo Hall Of Fame
UC Davis head coach Jamey Wright was inducted along with five others into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame on June 12 at the Del Mar Marriott in San Diego, Calif. Wright, in his 27th year at the helm of the Aggies, earned his 300th career victory when the Aggies defeated Brown, 14-4, at the Roadrunner Invitational on March 28. His Aggies have collected 20 or more wins in 12 of the 14 seasons since achieving varsity status in 1996-97.
Klatt Will Help Olympians Go For Gold In 2012
Two-time Big West Coach of the Year Dan Klatt, a 2004 Olympian with the U.S. Men’s Team, received an opportunity to help lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to gold medal glory at the 2012 Olympics in London. Klatt, the two-time Big West Coach of the Year at UC Irvine, was named a national team assistant by U.S. National Team head coach Adam Krikorian in late April. Klatt led the Senior “B” Team to a first place finish at the Canada Cup in late 2009.