The IU water polo team will enter its last exhibition match this weekend ranked as the No. 17 team in the country with the Collegiate Water Polo Association Championships set to begin April 28 in Bloomington.
Coming off their last road trip of the season, the Hoosiers will look to end their regular season by honoring their lone senior, center Bronwyn Smith, in an exhibition match against the McKendree Bearcats from Lebanon, Illinois. IU Coach Ryan Castle said it's debatable whether or not this exhibition game counts.
“It doesn’t matter to me," Castle said. "If my players are wearing the red suit we’re going to go out there and do our very best.”
Even though it is an exhibition game, IU will not let up. The team’s main focus this year has been to improve itself and its game in any way that it can by working harder in practice and eliminating mistakes that it has had in games.
This weekend will be no different for IU, which comes in at 18-9 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
“I’m looking at how we’re moving the ball, where we want it to go and fixing our mistakes,” Castle said. “I want us to be very clinical and executing the things we have been working on in practice.”
Smith, who has played the last four seasons at IU, said she wants to go out with a bang at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center by playing every position in the game Friday.
Castle said Smith will get that chance and he will let her play the whole game wherever she wants. As the lone senior on the team, Smith will get more opportunities than in a typical senior night game.
The game Friday will feature a rematch between the two teams, which played back in February as a part of the Hoosier Classic. IU took down McKendree by a score of 18-4 with hat tricks from junior center Jennifer Beadle and freshman attacker Joelle Nacouzi.
Freshman backup goalkeeper Davis Simmons got some game minutes against McKendree in the last game and will likely feature in Friday’s game as well. She saved seven shots against McKendree and let three of them go in.
Two of McKendree’s four goals were scored by Jillian Hoffman, who will likely lead the charge for the Bearcats this time around. McKendree enters this weekend with a 7-14 overall record, but it is 7-1 in the CWPA Mid-Atlantic Division.
Smith said senior night will be bittersweet for her. Even though she will get to play every position, she said she will miss playing with all of her teammates after she graduates.
“I love how we are a family, and going somewhere and starting something new will be a different experience for me,” Smith said.
The game will begin at 7 p.m. in the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center with the festivities honoring Smith.
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