Water polo wraps up regular season

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The Gannon University women’s water polo team competed this past weekend in the Indiana Tournament in Bloomington, playing against the College of Notre Dame (Ohio), the University of Michigan and the 12th-ranked host team, Indiana.

The Knights opened the tournament with a rough start against Michigan, losing 21-5 Saturday. Gannon’s goals were scored by freshmen Liz Barr (2), Alison Cooney (2) and Grace Villano (1), and sophomore goalie Emily Rodriguez had five blocks.

“The teams we played in Bloomington are high-caliber teams,” Rodriguez said. “They have been playing together for years.

“Our team is relatively young so it’s hard to compete with older girls who have that experience.”

The Knights picked themselves up and started strong Sunday morning with a 13-4 victory over Notre Dame. Within the first 16 seconds of the match, Barr gave Gannon a 1-0 lead, followed by contributions by Cooney resulting in three more unanswered goals within the first 2 minutes.

In the second quarter three more goals were scored, giving Gannon a 7-0 lead at halftime.

“We played a very heads-up offense and really focused on the plays we had spent hours working on in practice,” Cooney said. “It was really refreshing to see our offense come together the way we know we can.”

Notre Dame began to turn up the heat with four goals in the third and fourth quarters, but they weren’t quite hot enough to make a comeback, as the Knights scored six more times.

Rodriguez registered 10 blocks by the end of the game, and Gannon went home with a nine-point win.

“Our offense was great,” Rodriguez said. “They were putting together beautiful plays and they really saw the whole pool and the person with the best shot.”

Later that day, Indiana gave the Gannon women a run for their money, scoring 12 goals to the Knights’ one, with that coming from Francesca Williams, by the end of the second quarter.

Indiana slowed down a bit in the second half giving Cooney the opportunity to score back-to-back goals, but still the Hoosiers maintained control on the way to an 18-3 win.

“We knew going into our Michigan and Indiana games that they would be difficult and hard-fought games,” Cooney said. “Both are great teams.”

The Knights compete this weekend in Geneva, Ohio, in the Western Water Polo Association Championships and the team has a positive outlook.

“We have high expectations,” Rodriguez said. “Having moved to a new conference this year, we have better chances at going to the NCAA championships.

“We haven’t seen these teams at all during the regular season so we’re going in with confidence and we’re going to play our best.”

Cooney said the Knights have the talent and the ability to prevail in Ohio, where they will be seeded fifth among five teams.

The remaining teams all are from California – top seed UC San Diego, No. 2 Sonoma State, No. 3 Cal State Monterey Bay and No. 4 Cal State East Bay.

“I think if we can really pull together our offense, we can come away from this weekend with three wins,” she said.

Gannon opens play at 2 p.m. Friday against Sonoma State.

 EMMA SCIULLO

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