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Water polo preview: Rams set for WWPA Championships

April 25, 2013

Weekly Release (PDF) | WWPA Championships Schedule | Championships Central

While the overall record isn’t what the team had hoped for going into the season, the Rams are right where they were predicted in terms of conference standings. With its victory over Cal State Monterey Bay on April 6, CSU locked up the No. 4 seed heading into the WWPA Championships.

It ties the highest seed in school history (also 2011). The Rams will play No. 5 Sonoma State in the opening round of the Championships on Friday. If they win, they will play the winner of the UC San Diego-Cal State San Bernardino game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT. With a loss, the Rams will face the losing team at 10:30 a.m. CSU will then play on Sunday, as well. The complete bracket and schedule can be found on Page 1 of the complete release. Scores and stats will be added after each game to the WWPA Championships Central.

“Our overall record isn’t where we’d like it to be, but we won the games that mattered,” said associate head coach Mike Moody. “Going into the season we were seeded No. 4, and that’s right where we finished. We’re playing good polo, and we’re in a good place to hopefully make a little noise and go out strong.”

In 2012, CSU was seeded No. 8 out of nine teams. The Rams won two games in the tournament to finish sixth. If the Rams defeat the Seawolves on Friday, they are guaranteed a top-four finish, which would also tie the highest tournament finish in program history (2010). In all, CSU has finished equal or higher than its original seed in six of its eight seasons.

The Colorado State water polo team earned a program-record four postseason honors Monday, as three different Rams were recognized by the Western Water Polo Association. Freshman Ariel Arcidiacono earned one of the top awards, being chosen by the league’s eight coaches as the Newcomer of the Year. Joining Arcidiacono, senior Shelby Schaefer earned first-team honors, while Kelcy Barott was named an honorable mention (her second honor: 2012 All-Freshman team). Additionally, Arcidiacono was also placed on the All-Freshman team. It marks the third straight season that a CSU player has been named to the All-Freshman team, and just the second time the Rams have received a first-team selection (Ali Pavlik in 2011).

“I’m really, really excited for these girls,” Moody said. “They’ve worked so hard and have pushed themselves and their teammates, and I’m really proud of them.”

The water polo program was hit with hard news on Jan. 24, as it was announced that Colorado State University will discontinue the sponsorship of the sport after the completion of this season. Water polo, in its ninth season, was CSU’s newest sport until CSU announced that it will add women’s soccer in its place.

While there was obvious shock and disappointment, the team responded to adversity by tying its highest-ever regular-season finish. The Rams will need to win this weekend’s WWPA Championships in order to further their season.

“It was obviously very emotional and very difficult, but we got right back to work and stayed focus on our routine,” Moody said. “We’re in a good position mentally, physically and emotionally. We understand that we have a job to do and goals to accomplish, and that next year has no bearing on finishing strong.

Twenty-two former Colorado State water polo players rejoined the program on April 13 for CSU’s first reunion game. In all, 40 of the program’s 63 all-time players were in attendance, with many participating in the game.

“It was really a great experience,” said Moody, who has been with the program for eight of the nine years, dating back to 2006. “It was special to get so many girls, from all nine teams, back in the water together. It was a great celebration.”

The current players were paired against the alumni, with the exception of the alumni borrowing a goalie from the current roster. The only two coaches in program history, Moody and John Mattos, were the game’s referees. Mattos, who served as CSU’s swimming & diving coach for 31 years until his retirement in 2011, started the water polo program in 2005. The game was fun and lighthearted for many, and by the closing minutes, all athletes jumped in the pool, closing the game with 36 participants.

Freshman Ariel Arcidiacono has scored in all 27 games of her collegiate career. Not only is that the most by a CSU player to begin her career, but it is also the most consecutive games scored in by any Rams player. Arcidiacono passed teammate Shelby Schaefer on March 30 for the record.

Schaefer recorded a goal in 18 straight games between April 2012 and March 2013, which was then a program mark. After not scoring in one game, the senior has scored in 17 straight, which ranks third.

Three CSU players—Ariel Arcidiacono (69 goals; fourth), Shelby Schaefer (55; eighth) and Kelcy Barott (37; 15th)—rank among the top scorers in the WWPA. CSU is one of two schools to have four players ranked in the top 25. Additionally, Stephanie Weed ranks 23rd—with 30 goals. The foursome account for more than 85 percent of the team’s offensive production.

Not only are those players scoring, but they’re also tallying assists for each other. Schaefer (37 assists; sixth) and Arcidiacono (31; ninth) also rank in the league’s top 10 for helpers. They are just two of five players to be among the top 10 in both categories, and the only set of teammates.

Despite splitting time in net, Michelle Slagle (174 saves; sixth) and Melissa Fisher (95; 10th) both rank in the top 10 for saves. The WWPA does not keep track of ejections drawn, but Barott has drawn 102 on the season, a program record. The previous high was 60. Making the statistics even more impressive, CSU has played the fewest games among all WWPA schools.



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