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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports water polo

"Newbies" look to replicate success of past teams

After a success-filled 2011, question marks loom for 2012.

The No. 10 IU water polo team will kick off its season this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the Michigan Kick-Off. The Hoosiers will face Michigan at noon Saturday. Just six hours later, IU will get back in the water against UCLA and will wrap up the tournament with Colorado State on Sunday.

The team notched a record-tying 26 wins last season, won the program’s second Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship and placed sixth at the NCAA Championships.

However, this year’s squad is different from the year before. While seven seniors, who combined to score half the team’s goals last year, graduated, 10 freshmen were added in what IU Athletics regards as a highly talented group. IU was also stung by an injury to attacker Jakie Köhli, who will redshirt as a senior this year while she sits and recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

“The culture mental attitude rests on the returners making sure they’re getting the newbies to the right place,” IU Coach Barry King said. “It’s a group process, it’s everyone being willing to pitch in, it’s the new people being willing to listen to some feedback.”

Known for its stingy defense, the Hoosiers will value the leadership and play from senior goalkeeper Cassie Wyckoff.

“Everything that we do defensively is anchored around her, so if she plays to her potential all the time, it makes it a lot easier for the rest of us to play to our potential,” King said. “When you’re the most talented player on that side of the ball for us, there are a lot of expectations that you’re going to help us lock down a lot of people and make everyone else’s job easier.”

Wyckoff will have to lead the team this season, as she is just one of two active seniors and the squad’s most renowned player to date. As a 2011 ACWPC All-American Honorable Mention and CWPA Eastern Championship MVP, Wyckoff set the school record with 348 saves. Hanna Eimstad, the team’s other senior, certainly has game experience, as she competed in all 39 matches last year, but made just one start. Wyckoff said she is poised and willing for the new position she must step into.

“I feel like I have to take a captain and a leadership role, especially considering (the) new freshmen,” Wyckoff said. “They don’t understand what it’s like to play college water polo yet, so you really have to try and feed them your knowledge and help them out as much as possible in and out of the water.”

Several sophomores will also see playing time for IU this season. Shae Fournier led the team in four major categories with 57 goals, 39 assists, 87 steals and 51 field blocks. Amanda Redfern is back for a second year after a freshman campaign that included 17 goals. Attacker Meghan Lappan started 35 matches last year.

“As a team, considering that we’re very young, we’re just trying to build off of what we did last year and hopefully maintain how well we did,” Wyckoff said. “Realistically speaking, we’re just trying to evolve as a team and as a whole.”

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