The No. 14 IU water polo team has played in regulation pool dimensions in every game thus far. That trend will end this weekend in Oneonta, New York, where they will face off against No. 10 Princeton and unranked Bucknell and George Washington.
As part of water polo regulations, the pool must be at least 20 meters by 10 meters by 1.8 meters. This weekend IU will play in what is considered a shallow-deep pool which is considerably less deep than the pools they are used to competing in.
The Hoosiers, who are 13-7 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten to start Collegiate Water Polo Association play, have been practicing in the shallow pool of the Councilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center for the past week to prepare for the type of environment they will be playing in this weekend.
“Our pool has a shallow section so we have been able to practice in it to get ready for this weekend,” IU Coach Ryan Castle said. “We’re learning how to shoot in a pool like that, and we are getting used to moving around and passing the ball in a pool that is shallow.”
IU will match up against No. 10 Princeton in its first game this weekend, which will be the fifth consecutive contest where they will play a top-10 opponent. Playing yet another tough team on the road will be no easy task for the Hoosiers, especially in the midst of a four-game losing streak, but Castle said he isn’t worried about the losing streak. He just wants to see his team continue to improve.
“We don’t panic from losses,” Castle said. “We try to learn from them in order to get better. We are making adjustments due to the shallow-deep pool and we haven’t played in that type of environment this season.”
IU’s form has fluctuated throughout the season. The team rode a nine-game winning streak at one point earlier in the year but now finds itself on a four-game losing streak. Castle said he doesn’t want his team to get rattled just because they are on a cold streak.
“Even when we’re on a win streak, it’s not so much about wins and losses, it’s about how we’re improving on the stuff we’ve been practicing,” Castle said. “Our losses have been against really good top-10 teams. We take the losses in our stride and continue to work hard. We’re doing all we can do right now and the wins will come. We want to execute this weekend.”
Castle said he wants to see junior attacker Sarah Young step up this weekend. He said she will be playing in a utility role, something she is not used to playing, but Castle said that they will look to Young this weekend due to her past experiences in a narrow pool.
Young has scored 22 goals this season, the third highest on the team behind junior defender Kelly Matthew with 37 and freshman attacker Joelle Nacouzi with 27.
The team will have its hands full against Princeton and its leading scorer, Haley Wan, who has put 50 goals into the back of the net so far this season.
Bucknell will be led by Marta Considine and their high-powered offense. Bucknell currently has five different players who have scored more than 30 goals this season and will look to improve on that statistic against the Hoosiers.
Following Princeton’s trend, George Washington has its own goal scorer with more than 50 goals. IU junior goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault will have her hands full with Scarlett Hallahan, who leads the team with 51 goals.
Castle said he’s been impressed with freshman Mollie Williams', Nacouzi's, and Gaudreault’s work in the past two weeks since their last game. Gaudreault has been outstanding in front of net this season, saving 211 shots and only allowing about seven goals per game.
IU will play Princeton and Bucknell on Saturday followed by the contest against George Washington early Sunday morning.
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