By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Playing some of the toughest teams in the nation Saturday, the Colorado State women’s water polo team gave its all, but came up a little short, falling in a pair of close contests to open the 2012 season.
In the opening game, despite falling to No. 3 UCLA, 9-4, coach Mike Moody was very encouraged by what he saw.
“We had a huge defensive game,” Moody said. “We held the No. 3 team in the country to nine goals for the entire game, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment.”
The Rams entered halftime trailing 6-3, and while they weren’t able to get much going offensively, they allowed just three goals in the second half. Comparatively, in the Rams’ three previous all-time meetings against the Bruins, CSU allowed an average of 17.67 goals per game.
“I think that shows that we were improving throughout the game,” Moody said. “Kallie Berry played great as a defender and our perimeter defense led us to a great start.”
But the biggest factor on the defensive end was goalie Melissa Fisher.
“Fish had 12 huge saves,” Moody said. “She had a great game in the cage.”
In the nightcap, the Rams got off to a hot start, scoring five of the game’s first six goals and taking a 5-1 lead into the second period.
“We had a great first period,” Moody said. “Michigan had an unbelievable crowd and I thought our girls responded well.”
However, a couple key offensive turnovers late in the second period allowed No. 12 Michigan to take the lead. CSU trailed 9-6 at the half, and played catch-up the rest of the way, eventually falling, 17-13.
“We have to do a better job of being active participants,” Moody said, “especially on defense. We came out flat in the second half, and that hurt us.”
Despite the losses on the day, Moody found several positives, especially so early in the season.
“We had a lot of freshmen play, and I like some of the things I saw out of them,” he said. “Amber Bryan had a great all-around day, and Kallie Berry performed really well too.”
CSU will have a chance to get revenge against Michigan Sunday in the conclusion of the Michigan Kick-Off. The Rams will take on No. 10 Indiana at 8 a.m. MT, followed by a rematch against the Wolverines at 1 p.m.
“I feel good about where we’re at,” Moody said. “It’s the second game of a 25-game regular season. Our starters played really, really well together, we just need to get experience. We’ll learn from today and move forward.”
Also on Saturday, Indiana beat Michigan, 6-3, and UCLA defeated Indiana, 10-5.
UCLA 9 – CSU 4
CSU Goals: Amber Bryan
2, Kallie Berry
, Caroline Young
UCLA Goals: KK Clark 3, Becca Dorst 3, Gabby Juarez, Kelly Ronimus, Hannah Sebenaler.
Saves: Melissa Fisher
(CSU) 12, Caitlin Dement (UCLA) 10.
Ejections: CSU 6, UCLA 6.Michigan 17 - CSU 13
CSU Goals: Amber Bryan 5, Caroline Young 3, Shelby Schaefer 2, Kallie Berry 2, Brianna Sherrin.
Michigan Goals: Audrey Pratt 4, Lauren Colton 3, Meagan Cobb 3, Kiki Golden 2, Katie Cutler, Elizabeth Watson, Lauren Dudley, Hathaway Moore, Kelsey Nolan.
Saves: Michelle Slagle (CSU) 10, Alex Adamson (Michigan) 7, Morgan Turner (Michigan) 3.
Ejections: Michigan 12, CSU 7