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January 28, 2009 > Cal State East Bay begins title defense

Cal State East Bay begins title defense

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko

Cal State East Bay, the defending Division III National Champions, splashed into the water against Bay Area rival, Santa Clara, on Saturday, Jan. 24.

The team came into the game with high hopes and an opportunity for their 10 new team members to get their feet wet against a national caliber Division I opponent.

"We have high hopes for our freshman. Preparing for them is different this year," stated Ellie Wilhelmsen, a former All-American goalie and current CSEB coach. "As long as we give our best, I'm satisfied."

Giving the best is exactly what the new coach saw her team demonstrate in front of a roaring home crowd. They fought hard, but came up short in their season debut, 18-12.

Santa Clara Coach Keith Wilbur took notice of the CSEB depth and new quick style of play.

"I am happy that we were able to start the season with a strong win in a really tough small pool," said Wilbur. "... but defensively, we need to work on some things and avoid giving up 12 goals."

Santa Clara had to use a balanced attack of 11 different players to pinpoint junior transfer Lauren Merrill. The passionate first year coach is excited about the optimism of her team.

"Lauren has a good knowledge of the game," said first-year coach, Wilhelmsen. "I keep telling her and the rest of the team that their going to break a lot of my records."

Wilhelmsen will have the opportunity to challenge her team this Saturday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. in the team's annual water polo alumni game. The Cal State East Bay team is currently ranked No. 3 in Division III by the Collegiate Water Polo Association.

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