The 6th-ranked San Diego State women's water polo team will kick off its 2009 campaign against Hartwick at the Aztec Aquaplex
Feb. 3, 2009
SAN DIEGO -
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No. 6 SDSU Water Polo Opens 2009 Campaign This Week
The 6th-ranked San Diego State women's water polo team will kick off its 2009 campaign with a busy schedule this week, beginning with a 2 p.m. PT showdown against No. 12 Hartwick College on Thursday, Feb. 5, at the Aztec Aquaplex. The next day, SDSU will play host again, this time to Marist College on Friday, Feb. 6, at noon. The day after that, the Aztecs will travel across town to compete in the UC San Diego Triton Invitational, Feb. 7-8, in La Jolla, Calif.
The Aztecs open the weekend tournament with pool play on Saturday and are set to square off against Maryland, who is receiving votes in the national top-20 poll, at 9 a.m. PT at Canyonview East Pool on the campus of UCSD. The Aztecs and Terrapins are joined in Group B by 13th-ranked UC Irvine and Santa Clara (receiving votes). If San Diego State defeats Maryland, it will face the winner of the UC Irvine-Santa Clara game, starting at 3:30 p.m. If the Aztecs stumble, they will take on the loser of that same contest at 2 p.m.
SDSU is the highest-ranked team in the Triton Invitational, which also includes Michigan (8th), UC Davis (9th), Loyola Marymount (11th), Hartwick (12th), UC Irvine (t-13th), CS Northridge (t-13th), CS Bakersfield (15th), Long Beach State (16th), host UCSD (18th), UC Santa Barbara (20th) and Santa Clara (receiving votes).
A Look at Hartwick
Hartwick (1-2) opened its season with a trio of games in Irvine, Calif., last Sunday, taking on UC Irvine, Pomona and CS San Bernardino before they to Los Angeles, Calif. to take on USC on Wednesday. The Hawks lost to #7 Arizona State 16-6, defeated Pomona-Pitzer by a final score of 8-6 and dropped thier nightcap against #13 UC Irvine 12-7. Harwick was led with goals from Kirsten Hudson, Barbara Araro, Christina Evans, Shannon Leonard and Lisa Bass over the weekend.
This will mark the third consecutive season that SDSU will face Hartwick in its season opener. Last year, SDSU pulled out an 11-8 triumph at the Aztec Aquaplex.
Following Thursday's game at the Aztec Aquaplex, Hartwick travel across town to take on UC San Diego in the Hawks doubleheader. Hartwick will also join SDSU in the 16-team Triton Invitational over the weekend.
Let's Make it Eight
San Diego State has experienced great success in season-opening games, posting an 11-3 record since women's water polo achieved varsity status in 1995. The Aztecs sport a seven-game winning streak in season openers, with four of the last five coming at the UCSD Invitational. SDSU's only opening day losses came in 1995, 2000 and 2001.
A Look at Marist
Marist has had extra time to prepare for the Aztecs, as they have yet to play a game this season. The Red Foxes will open their 2009 schedule on Friday against San Diego State. Marist returns 18 players from a squad that posted a 27-10 record last year and was a NCAA Tournament participant. The Red Foxes will rely on three of their top goal-scorers from 2008 in Kristen Barnett (59), Katelin McCahill (57) and Samantha Swartz (39).
Following Friday's game at the Aztec Aquaplex, Marist will join SDSU in the Triton Invitational hosted by UC San Diego.
Breaking Down the Terps
This is the second time in as many seasons that SDSU will square off against Maryland in the first game of the Triton Invitational. Maryland has yet to play a game this season with its 2008 schedule commencing on Saturday against SDSU at the Triton Invitational. The Terps, who enter their sixth year as a varsity sport, return 15 letterwinners from a squad that posted a 22-16 record last year. Maryland will rely on its top three goal-scorers from 2008 in Rachel Jordan (65), Elizabeth Hopkins (56) and Shannon Simerly (49). Also returning is goalkeeper Ashleigh Jobson, who recorded 286 saves.
Aztecs in the Triton Invitational
This is the 14th season in which the Aztecs will participate in the UCSD Invitational. In the previous 13 years, SDSU has compiled a 34-23 overall record in the annual event. In 2008, the Scarlet and Black won its first-ever championship. The Aztecs have reached the championship game on four occasions, but were unable to claim the title before last year as they dropped an 8-6 decision to Loyola Marymount in 2007, suffered an 8-3 defeat at the hands of Long Beach State in 2004 and fell 12-4 to UCLA in 1996.
Last year, SDSU posted a 4-0 record en route to its first championship crown. The Aztecs opened group play with a pair of victories over Maryland and Cal State Northridge, before downing UC Santa Barbara , 8-6, in the semifinals. SDSU again met Loyola Marymount in the final match, this year getting over the hump and leaving victorious with a 10-9 upset.
Back in the Mix
The Aztecs welcome back 8 letterwinners, with seven playing in more than 30 games, from a 2008 squad that finished with a program and conference best 31 victories en route to SDSU's second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA championships where the team finished fifth. Leading the way in 2009 will be the senior duo of returning two-time All-Americans Jenna Schuster and Anna Gonzales. Schuster concluded last season with a team-best 83 goals and also added 53 steals, while Gonzales recorded 77 goals, 52 steals and 39 assists. The Aztecs will also look to junior co-captain Danielle Pelke and junior Ronni Gautschi for support. Pelke, a driver, racked up 48 goals, 31 steals and 26 assists in her second season on The Mesa. Gautschi totaled 29 goals, 19 assists, 13 steals and 42 ejections drawn.
SDSU in the Polls
San Diego State earned a No. 6 ranking in the National Collegiate Women's Varsity Preseason Top 20 Poll released Jan. 12 by the Collegiate Water Polo Association. This marks the third straight year SDSU has been ranked No. 6 to start the season. In each of the last five campaigns, the Aztecs have gone into their first game of the year ranked inside the top 10.
Career Record Watch
After just three seasons on The Mesa, senior Jenna Schuster ranks 5th on SDSU's all-time charts with 191 goals, while classmate Anna Gonzales is not far behind with 181 scores to her credit. Also, ranking among the top 10 in career assists are Gonzales (5th; 103) and senior Erinn Greenwood (7th; 91). All three also rank among the top 10 in career ejections drawn with Greenwood ranking 3rd (221) and Gonzales and Schuster tied for 8th (86). Gonzales is currently sits in 9th place in career steals with 131.
Crawford at the Controls
Head coach Carin Crawford enters her 11th year at the helm of the San Diego State women's water polo team. In each of her ten seasons on Montezuma Mesa, SDSU has never finished below 11th place in the final national rankings. In 2008, Crawford led the Aztecs to their second consecutive appearance at the NCAA championships, where SDSU finished fifth. During her tenure, the Aztecs have garnered 17 All-America awards and have also claimed 18 all-MPSF accolades. In addition, Crawford's players have earned 36 all-MPSF academic awards, as well as 30 AWPCA all-academic honors.
There's No Place Like Home
Since the opening of the Aztec Aquaplex in 2007, SDSU has posted a 21-4 record (84.0 percent). All four of the losses have come at the hands of teams ranked in the top seven.