NCAA Women’s Conference Championships, Hawai’i Breaks Through, Pomona Rises Again, LMU vs. UCSD

Six conference championships tournaments, five of them streaming online, four of them at no cost (where were you, WWPA?). If you’ve complained about the lack of coverage of women’s college water polo this was not the weekend to voice it. The best three days of competition of the year were widely available for viewing, and garnered big coverage via social media as well. The press, too, gave the events proper attention. No need to step on their reporting, but some observations from behind the keyboard.

  • Hawai’i has exorcised some demons with their tense double overtime win over UC Irvine. The Big West championship match was a well-played defensive battle. The victory gives a boost to the Aloha State program, which had in recent years gained a reputation among fans for not quite living up to expectations. For their efforts the Rainbow Wahine are rewarded with a 5,000 mile journey to Cambridge, and yet more valuable exposure for Coach Maureen Cole’s resilient team.
  • After several weeks atop the Division III polls, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps entered the SCIAC championships as the number one seed. But Redlands reprised the spoiler role they played in a similar setting one year ago by surprising the Athenas by one goal in the tournament semi-finals. Pomona-Pitzer, which defeated CMS by five goals just over a week ago, then happily took on the role of tournament favorite and beat Redlands in the finals, 10-7.
  • According to the CWPA polls, not once this season was UCSD ranked ahead of LMU (they were tied for 16th place in week four). This after going 2-0 versus the Lions earlier in the season and some key wins over higher-ranked Indiana, Northridge, and Long Beach State. The WWPA, accordingly, gave the Tritons the top seed for the championship tournament, where they again beat LMU by two goals. Final regular season CWPA rankings? LMU 11th, UCSD 13th.
  • The Big West, and all others who streamed matches this weekend deserve unreserved praise. The more exposure, the better for our sport. In the spirit of constant improvement, however, a couple observations:
    • Hearing a player described as “number 5, dark” makes our teeth hurt. By the end of a tournament as well attended as the Big West’s, surely the audience knows which team is wearing which color of cloth on their heads. It’s simply not that hard to say, “Contra foul on Hawai’i’s Monika Eggens, number 5.” Perhaps our announcing friends could simply use names and leave the color of hats on the scoresheet.
    • We’ve spoken with many people who have a passionate interest in ever increasing the amount of water polo on TV and streamed online. In that spirit, please consider the following strategic goal: get rid of the black lines on the bottom of the pool. For the sake of our game they need to go. Really.
    • Chris Dorst did well to remain objective while describing the play of his own daughter, Becca, who was a key component of the UCLA win over Arizona State in the MPSF third-place match. It was awkward (but correct) to hear him referring to her as “Dorst.”
    • Dear UC Irvine event staff: Playing music during breaks in the game is a fine idea. However, our calendar tells us it’s now the 21st century. Despite your best intentions, and your killer LP collection, Santana, Glenn Frey, and Credence Clearwater Revival aren’t the kind of hot, new up-and-comers that speak to the youth demographic. Just a thought.