No. 14 IU water polo has its first home games of the season this weekend, as No. 25 Cal Baptist comes to Bloomiongton for a battle of ranked teams before IU plays exhibition games against Carthage and McKendree.
The Hoosiers overcame weather problems several times already this season. In their first invite at UC-Santa Barbara, windy and rainy weather made it difficult to play their outdoor game.
This weekend, however, the Hoosiers will play inside at the Councilman Billingsley Aquatic Center.
“I’m glad that it’s not going to be raining,” IU Coach Ryan Castle said. “It’s the first time we’ve played at home, so hopefully we can get a big crowd to get home field advantage.”
The Hoosiers began the season with a defensive mindset, but have recently worked on the other side of the ball in order to be a more well-rounded team.
“We’ve started to work on our offense, which we haven’t done for the last couple of weeks,” Castle said. “We want to get our counterattack going which starts out with good defense.”
Freshman attacker Joelle Nacouzi has recently come onto the scene for the Hoosiers offensively, and despite a slow start to the season, her 13 goals have her tied for the most goals on the team with junior Sarah Young.
In the past three games Nacouzi has put eight shots in the back of the net and completed two hat tricks.
Castle said his team will only get better now that the Hoosiers are starting to work to improve their offense.
They currently have three players with hat tricks on the season, and that number should increase with IU now focusing on its offensive game.
This weekend IU will go up against yet another ranked opponent in Cal Baptist. It has beaten a ranked opponent in each invite of the season thus far, and Castle says he looks to keep that trend going, especially in front of a home crowd.
He said the team’s mental toughness is to credit for its success against ranked opponents.
“We like the challenge of playing ranked opponents,” Castle said. “Cal Baptist has some great playmakers and a really good goaltender.”
Castle credited the bulk of his team’s mental toughness to the leaders of the team. The Hoosiers’ main goalscorers, including Nacouzi, Matthews and freshman Mollie Williams, will have to do their part.
“We have seven juniors and a lot of leaders that have experience,” Castle said. “They execute very well in the pool and keep the team together out of it.”
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