The No. 15 IU water polo team made school history by winning the team’s first ever CWPA Western Division Championship two weekends ago. But the season is far from over.
This weekend, the Hoosiers (19-12) will partake in the CWPA Eastern Conference Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., with a berth to the NCAA Championships tournament on the line. If IU wins the tournament, it will automatically qualify for the NCAAs. If IU takes home anything less than the first-place trophy, the season will be over.
IU Coach Barry King said he expects nothing short of a trip to the NCAA tournament in May.
“I’ll be honest, I think we’re the best team out here, so it would be a disappointment if we don’t go,” he said. “It will be exciting and everything if we do win it and go, but there’s an element of, ‘This is what we came to do, and this is what we thought we were capable of in the beginning.’”
IU will go into the tournament as the top seed. After winning the Western Division, the Hoosiers clinched the 1-seed in this weekend’s tournament. Following a first-round bye, IU will begin play at 3:20 p.m. Friday against the winner of Bucknell and Mercyhurst. IU has not played either school this year.
Saturday, however, could present the third matchup of the 2013 season between IU and its rival, No. 19 Michigan. The Wolverines defeated IU at Bloomington in the Hoosiers’ regular season finale 8-7 in overtime. But IU would get revenge in its very next game when the Wolverines and Hoosiers were scheduled to face off in the Western Division tournament’s first round. IU won 10-7.
Freshman center Candyce Schroeder said she is excited to break the 1-1 tie.
“I love playing Michigan,” she said. “I love beating them. I can’t wait to sing our fight song at their pool.”
This weekend’s tournament will be at Michigan’s home pool, but if recent history is any indicator, that favors IU. Five of the last six games, including each of the last four, between the rival schools played at either’s home pool have resulted in a victory for the road team.
Sophomore Alexis Jones said she hasn’t forgotten that fact.
“Every time that we’ve played them at their pool since I’ve been here, we’ve beaten them,” she said. “I think that when we play them in our own pool we get more distracted, so I think that’ll be better for us to play them at their pool.”
If the Hoosiers do win their first two games, they will play in the championship at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
If IU can win that match, it will mark the third time the Hoosiers will earn an NCAA berth, with the first two times coming in 2003 and 2011.
“I think they’re ready to go, ready to play,” King said. “They understand that this is gonna require their best play, their highest attention to detail. You know, last weekend’s win was encouraging. They’re prepared and ready to give that kind of