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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports water polo

No. 10 Indiana water polo to travel to Ann Arbor for weekend invitational

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No. 10 Indiana water polo had a strong start to the season Jan. 21-23, finishing its invitational at the University of California, Santa Barbara with a 4-0 record and outscoring opponents 64-21. The Hoosiers moved up to No. 10 in the most recent Collegiate Water Polo Association poll.

This weekend the Hoosiers head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the Michigan Invitational, and the competition looks to be tougher as they will face three ranked opponents. 

An offensive onslaught from the Hoosiers largely contributed to their success last weekend. 

“(It) was a good surprise to see how many different players scored on the team,” head coach Taylor Dodson said.

Early standout players for the Hoosiers include senior center and captain Izzy Mandema, freshman attacker Skylar Kidd, sophomore drivers Kallie White and Kiki Mein and senior goalkeeper Mary Askew. Dodson said her team this season has the most roster depth she has seen while at Indiana.

The Hoosiers start their Saturday afternoon in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference matchup against No. 3 University of California, Los Angeles at noon. The Bruins were at the University of California, Santa Barbara invite this past weekend just like the Hoosiers, but the teams did not face each other. The Bruins will enter the matchup undefeated as well and click on the offensive end just like the Hoosiers. They’ve scored 88 goals in five games, averaging just under 18 goals a game compared to the Hoosier’s 16-goal average. 

“UCLA is our first conference game so that game is treated a little bit differently just because it's a conference opponent and because it is a top 3 team,” Dodson said. “Anytime you play a conference opponent there's a different level of preparation, there's a different level of excitement and focus.”

Indiana will also take on Long Island University Brooklyn at 6 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the Hoosiers have another tough challenge as they take on No.5 Hawaii at 11:30 a.m. 

“Hawaii is also going to be very strong, they're always very good, those teams do get a little more scouting from us than the teams from this past weekend,” Dodson said.

The Hoosiers will conclude the Michigan Invitational against No. 22 Marist College. Three of the four teams the Hoosiers play this weekend are starting their season this weekend in Ann Arbor..

The competition is higher for the Hoosiers, but they aren’t intimidated, Dodson said. 

“It'll be a better marker of where we are and how we compete against those teams this week,” she said. “Those games will be tough, I’m excited to be really challenged.”

Indiana starts its season competing in invitationals like this one that require the team to play up to two games in a single day.

“It’s tough, but we focus on fitness a lot,” Dodson said. “It's really the first core piece of our team is fitness, then fundamentals, finesse and family.” 

Throughout the season, the Hoosiers play two total games in Bloomington. Dodson said the lack of home contests doesn’t faze them. Most of the team is from California, for example, so the pools the team travels to aren’t all unfamiliar.

“We like being on the road, it's part of our identity,” Dodson said. “It's part of who we are, it sets the tone for the weekend being away.”

The optimism for the rest of the season remains high for Dodson and her squad.

“It is what it is so we have to kind of rise to that adversity and just do the best we can to get through it,” said Dodson about the upcoming weekend. “We’re good, we’re a ranked program. Hopefully, we stay ranked all year and pull some upsets.”

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