The IU women’s water polo team gears up for its 2019 campaign Saturday, with a four-game slate at the UCSB Winter Invite in Santa Barbra, California.
IU Head Coach Ryan Castle has a reloaded roster without seniors for the first time in his tenure with the Hoosiers. The roster features seven freshmen, two sophomores and six juniors in his third season at the helm.
IU finished last year with a 25-9 overall record, going 5-3 in conference play. The team had 10 wins against nationally ranked opponents. The Hoosiers' 25-win season was the team's most successful in seven years. IU's impressive results made them No. 15 in the final rankings of the 2018 season.
The Hoosiers join the seven-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this season. IU had five seniors depart from the team last offseason, so the Hoosiers could be looking for new leadership in some of this season’s upperclassmen.
The leadership of the 2019 squad will be driven by junior driver Emily Powell. Through two seasons with the Hoosiers, the team captain has played in 63 games.
IU also returns junior attacker Joelle Nacouzi, who is the highest scoring returner from last season. The Canada native registered 63 points in 32 games.
IU's first test at the invite comes Saturday against the University of California, San Diego. IU boasts a 9-11 lifetime record against the Tritons, including wins in three of the last four meetings.
Goalkeeper depth could be what helps Castle's young team succeed. Junior goalkeeper Davis Simmons leads the three-goalkeeper trio, along with freshmen Mary Askew and Sarah Greeven.
Behind last years senior goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault, the back-up Simmons played in only six games, a total of 71:09 minutes in the water. She had a .500 save percentage, allowing 4.50 goals per-match. This year her minutes in the pool will likely increase.
The season opener against UCSD begins at 3:00 p.m. while a second match against University of California, Santa Barbara follows at 7 p.m.