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May 6, 2009 > CSEB water polo goes to nationals

CSEB water polo goes to nationals

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko

The water polo program at Cal State East Bay has been arguably the most accomplished water polo program in Division III athletics. As the reining National Champions the team has reached the national tournament five of the last six years.

The team finished in fifth place at this year's National Women's Water Polo Championships at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Friday through Sunday, May 1-3. It was a modest accomplishment for a good team.

"Our goal is to play good water polo, not just win," said Coach Ellie Stewart.

Good, not great water polo is exactly what Coach Stewart's team has played throughout the National Tournament and the season.

Tournament Results:

May 1 vs. Cal Poly Pomona
Loss 11-4

The team was tied after the first quarter. Then it moved to 4-3 at halftime. "I don't know what happened to us in the second half," said Stewart. "We played them close then fell apart."

May 1 vs. Redlands of California
Win 11-10

"The game was an absolute nail biter," explained Stewart. "We were up and down throughout the whole match."

The final two games of the National Tournament, the Pioneers would face Washington-Jefferson of Pennsylvania and McCallister University.

"Generally, when a California team plays an East Coast team in water polo, they can beat them," Stewart stated before the match. Her predictions were correct as the Pioneers proved to be dominant in both contests.

May 2 vs. William-Jefferson, win 16-6; vs. McCallister University, win 10-6

Last year, the Pioneers were seeded fourth in the National Tournament and won the National Championship. Head Coach Lisa Derossi-Cooper was honored as National Coach of the year and Stewart received National Player of the year honors. In 2009, the team was seeded fifth and finished fifth.

It was a good year for Stewart, the first year coach. "We plan to be back next year. We have a good incoming class that should provide us with a lot of help," Stewart elaborated.

The new group is a mix of both Northern and Southern California players. Some of the ladies who have already signed a National Letter-of Intent to play water polo at CSEB for the 2010 season include Whitney Bell, Danielle Comforti, Alex Gudenau, Emily Hucal, Tristin Kennedy and Chelsie Zimmerman.

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