The Hoosiers finally get to play at home.
Through 13 games, the No. 11 IU water polo team has traveled as far as Palo Alto, Calif., and as close as Ann Arbor, Mich., for competitions, but has yet to play in Indiana, let alone Bloomington.
That will change this weekend as the Hoosiers facilitate the Fluid Four Saturday and Sunday in the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center, located in the Student Recreational Sports Center.
IU begins the weekend with an exhibition match against Dollard Des Ormeaux, a club team based in Montreal, at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Hoosiers will face No. 10 Long Beach State later that day at 7:20 p.m. Then, at 10:20 a.m. Sunday, IU will battle a Division III school in Washington and Jefferson to conclude the weekend.
Freshman center Candyce Schroeder said she is ready for her first career home game at IU.
“I haven’t had a home game yet, so I’m excited for that experience,” she said. “All the older girls say it’s a lot of fun, and the stands are going to be pretty packed.”
While IU Coach Barry King agreed it’s fun to play in front of a home crowd, he said playing in Bloomington could actually be detrimental.
“Typically, it’s a disadvantage,” he said. “We’re really good at traveling because we do it so much. The infrequency of being home tends to add a few more distractions than normal. So actually we try to act like we’re on the road even though we’re home, try to get into that kind of schedule.”
On the other hand, junior defender Amanda Redfern said she thinks playing at home will help.
“I don’t think I agree with that, because having your fans that will pump you up just makes you excited,” she said. “You want to play better to show them how good you are, and you want to show off.”
IU’s match against DDO will be the second time in as many years the team has partook in an exhibition match against a club team from Canada. Last year, the Hoosiers defeated the Calgary Renegades 12-5.
Despite it not counting in the win-loss column, Redfern said she is treating the match like any other.
“I don’t think it’s different than any normal game,” she said. “We treat all of our games the same, and we always go in and focus on what we need to work on, so it’s the same as any other game.“
When the Hoosiers face Long Beach State, it will be the second weekend in a row IU has battled a team ranked No. 10. The last team to occupy that ranking, Princeton, fell to the Hoosiers 4-2 last Sunday.
Last year, IU defeated Long Beach State 7-6, thanks to a long-range shot from then-sophomore Shae Fournier with just .3 seconds remaining on the clock.
King said he expects another intense matchup.
“Big, physical group,” he said of the 49ers. “They have some good skill kids. Their M.O. is to be big and physical, and so far that’s kind of caused us some problems this season, so it will be a super, super test for us. We had a blood bath with them last year over spring break, and these are essentially the same squads. It should be a great game.”
IU is 11-0 all-time against Washington and Jefferson with an average winning margin of 13.6 goals in those contests.
This will be the Presidents’ first weekend of play for the 2013 season, and King said he believes that will put them at a disadvantage.
“It’s always good to have a certain amount of rhythm,” he said. “We’ve got 13 games under our belt where we’re finding our legs and learning about each other. It will be difficult for them trying to sort that out amongst the competition that they’re going to face this weekend.”
One other team will participate in the Fluid Four: No. 19 Michigan. It will be the second time this season the Hoosiers and their archrivals will be in the same invitational without facing each other. They will duel, however, in IU’s final regular season game March 30.
Schroeder said she would like to battle the Wolverines but watching them one more time will be beneficial come the end of the year.
“I think it’s an advantage to see them play one more time and watch their plays, and we can watch more videos,” she said. “But I think we’re ready to play them, and we’re ready to beat them.”
Hoosiers play 1st home games of spring season
The Hoosiers finally get to play at home.