The No. 15 IU water polo team ended its 2013 regular season with a 8-7 overtime loss to No. 18 Michigan. This weekend, IU (16-12) gets a shot at revenge, as the team begins its first of possibly three postseason tournaments, the CWPA Western Division Championships taking place in Geneva, Ohio.
The Hoosiers’ first opponent will be the archrival Wolverines. The match begins at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m definitely excited to play them again, because last time, it was a rough ending, not really what we wanted,” sophomore Summer Creighton said. “Now we get a chance to prove that we’re the better team. It’s always fun to play a rivalry game.”
IU is 14-42-2 all-time against Michigan, but has won three of the past five matchups.
IU Coach Barry King said both he and his team need to adjust this time around if the Hoosiers are to defeat the Wolverines.
“For me personally, we’ve got to do something about our substitution patterns,” he said. “Our rotations need to be a little bit crisper. From a team, effort wise, we have to do a better job of playing the fourth quarter like we play the first quarter.
“We did a lot of really good things defensively in the first quarter. We kind of took steps backwards in the fourth and allowed the action to come at us a little bit too much.”
One new advantage IU could have against Michigan is freshman goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault. The normal starter in goal, Gaudreault sat out against Michigan two weekends ago with an elbow injury.
King said he’s not sure yet who will start against whom between Gaudreault and freshman goalkeeper Mary Campbell, but he said Gaudreault will play this weekend and is around 95-percent back to full strength.
Regardless if IU wins or loses in its first matchup, the second game will come later Saturday, either at 7 p.m. (with a loss) or 8:30 p.m. (with a win). No. 16 Hartwick, Gannon and Notre Dame (Ohio) will play in a round-robin format for their first round of play. If IU beats Michigan, it will face the second-place team of the trio. If IU loses its first match, it will face the third-place team.
On Sunday, the Hoosiers will play at either 10 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. depending on how the first day pans out, as long as they do not lose twice Saturday.
Despite IU possessing the highest national ranking of the five teams, the Hoosiers are the No. 3 seed for this tournament because of their 2-2 divisional record.
Both Creighton and sophomore Shelby Taylor expressed their desire to face top-seeded Hartwick after the Michigan matchup. Although IU beat Hartwick 9-6 earlier this year, the Hawks defeated the Hoosiers in a rematch 13 days later 8-7.
“I want to play Hartwick again,” Taylor said. “We lost to them the last time we played them. I don’t even want to talk about it, it was ridiculous. But it’ll definitely be good to go in there and prove that there was no way we should have lost that game.”
In terms of postseason significance, King, Creighton and Taylor all agreed this tournament was low on the totem pole. The real goal is to win the CWPA Eastern Conference Championships on April 26-28, where the winner clinches a spot in the eight-team NCAA Championships tournament in May.
Still, Taylor said it’s important mentally to be successful in this weekend’s tournament.
“I don’t think physically or seeding wise it’s important to do well this weekend, but I think mentally it is,” she said. “If we come out first, we’re gonna have a far better attitude going into Easterns than we possibly could if we come out not first this weekend.”