Sports / The Prairie Fire / April 6, 2011

Women’s water polo heads to conference

For Knox’s student-athletes, recognition can be hard to come by. For athletes competing at the club level—instead of varsity—it’s even more difficult.

But if Knox’s women’s water polo team keeps up its winning ways, the attention will come.

Last weekend, Knox’s women’s water polo team traveled to a tournament at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. The team won three games, losing just one—an overtime loss to the host school.

In wins over the University of Minnesota (by a score of 7-5), Iowa State University (9-6), St. Mary’s University (9-3), Knox was short-handed, playing only one substitute player available. In Knox’s lone defeat, a 9-7 overtime loss to Carleton College, the team was drained from having already played two games that day.

“Typically, teams have between 12 to 14 players,” senior co-captain Kelley O’Connor said. “This weekend we had only eight, so we were really tired.”

With their record now up to 6-2, Knox is in the position to compete for a conference championship, and a shot at the national championship. O’Connor explained that, coming into the season, expectations were low.

“I personally came into this season with not a lot of expectations,” O’Connor said. “We lost two members of our team to graduation, we lost a foreign exchange student who went back to France, and we have three members who are abroad right now. So we knew the team would be lacking in numbers.”

For her efforts at Carleton, O’Connor was named Heartland Division Player of the Week. In the four games, O’Connor tallied thirteen goals.

The team’s success, then, might be attributed to the familiarity. With no new freshman on the team—eager to learn, but unaware of the game itself—the players on the team can instead spend all their time focusing on bettering themselves.

“The team’s communication has been very good,” O’Connor said. We play together mostly all year long, and we’re used to playing with each other.”

Despite their small roster, the Prairie Fire have positioned themselves well in the Heartland Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association. O’Connor and her fellow co-captain, junior Anne Heberle, expect the team to receive a three seed for the conference tournament, giving them a good chance of reaching the national championship.

On April 16 and 17, the Prairie Fire will have the opportunity to reach their ultimate goal—the national championship—as they battle for conference supremacy at the Heartland Division Championship hosted by Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

Kevin Morris

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