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Water polo preview: CSU returns to pool searching for wins

The Rams will face five teams in the two-day Brown Invite.

The Rams will face five teams in the two-day Brown Invite.

Feb. 7, 2013

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Scouting Bucknell - Saturday, 8 a.m. MT
The Bucknell Bison kick off their 2013 season this weekend, first facing the Rams. Bucknell ended its 2012 campaign with a record of 15-24, finishing fourth in the six-team Southern Conference. Junior Jalianne Valdes returns as a utility player who racked up a team-leading 50 steals and 15 blocks, in addition to more than 60 goals, which ranked second on the team in 2012. Sophomore Taylor Barnett also adds intimidating depth to the Bucknell lineup, leading the Bison in ejections drawn, shots taken and goals scored a year ago. The Rams are 1-2 all-time against the Bison, defeating Bucknell a year ago, CSU's first win of the season at that point. In the 9-7 victory, Shelby Schaefer had a hat trick while Melissa Fisher made 15 stops in net.

Scouting Brown - Saturday, 11:15 a.m. MT
Like Bucknell, the Brown Bears, who are ranked No. 20 in the most recent poll, will begin their season this weekend, hosting their annual tournament. In 2012, the Bears went 21-17, including a 12-9 victory over the Rams. Despite being tied at 5-5 at the half, CSU allowed four goals in the third period. Again, Schaefer was an offensive threat, scoring twice. As a freshman, Madison Pepper helped Brown to a 20-win season, leading her team in goals and ejections drawn. The Bears finished fourth in the CWPA Eastern Championship. CSU is 1-1 against Brown in its history, defeating the Bears, 11-8, in 2011.

Scouting St. Francis - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. MT
The Terriers finished 2012 with a disappointing 6-14 record. Then-senior Paloma Szivos scored nearly one-third of the team's goals, but her place has been filled nicely with current senior Regina Toth, who ranked second on the team in goals and points. Toth was named to the All-MAAC first team in 2012. The Rams and Terriers have never faced each other before.

Scouting Wagner - Sunday, 6:30 a.m. MT
After a second-place finish in the MAAC standings a year ago, the Wagner Seahawks are looking for another 20-win campaign in 2013. Wagner went 20-18 in 2012, led by Co-Defensive Player of the Year Laura Karbach, who is now a senior captain and starting goalie. Karbach ranked second in the conference with 8.94 saves per game. The Rams and Seahawks have split the prior two matchups, most recently a 6-3 CSU win in 2009. The nine combined points is tied for the sixth-fewest in CSU history, and the three goals allowed is tied for eighth.

Scouting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps - Sunday, 11 a.m. MT
The Athenas are the only other team besides CSU to enter play this weekend with competition under their belt. CMS is 0-3, however, falling to UCLA and UC San Diego--two ranked teams--and Concordia. The Athenas went 14-16 in 2012, but are ranked No. 2 in the CWPA Division III poll. Junior utility Candance Fillppelli and junior attacker Alex Toohey--both All-Americans--return ready to lead CMS. CSU is 3-0 all-time against CMS, winning in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

National attention
Despite dropping its first four contests of the year--all to top-14 teams--and being idle for the three weeks since, CSU received one vote in the CWPA Women's Varsity National Top 20 poll for the second consecutive week on Wednesday. The Rams received votes on five occasions last year, cracking the top-20 for the first time in program history on Jan. 25.

The Rams are tied for 22nd nationally, and are one of 27 teams receiving at least one vote.

Level competition
The Rams will again face one of the most challenging schedules in the nation, but they have a great opportunity in front of them this weekend. Of CSU's five opponents in the Brown Invite, just two had winning records in 2012, and the combined record of the five teams was 76-89 (.461). What's more, CSU is 6-4 in head-to-head matchups against this weekend's foes.

Barott breaking out
Associate head coach Mike Moody saw potential in Kelcy Barott a year ago when she had a breakout rookie season and was named to the WWPA All-Freshman team. However, if the season's opening weekend is any indication, Barott is ready to take her game to the next level. In four games, the sophomore from Ypsilanti, Mich., scored nine goals, in addition to 18 ejections drawn. Against No. 11 Michigan (Jan. 19), she set a program record with eight ejections drawn, two more than the previous mark. The following day, facing ninth-ranked San Jose State, she recorded seven. Despite being just February, Barott needs just 14 more drawn ejections drawn to reach the top-10 in single-season history, and 42 to take the school's top spot.

On a roll
Shelby Schaefer scored in 13 straight games from March 10 through the first game of April 15 last year, tying Kallie Berry's 2011 mark for second all-time and just one away from the program record. Entering the 2013 season, she had scored in nine consecutive contests, and after goals in each game of the Michigan Kick-Off, she has reached her personal best and is one away from tying Laurien White's program mark that she set in 2007.




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