Return Trip to NCAAs: The 10th-ranked Princeton women’s water polo team will be making its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship this weekend. The Tigers won both the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Southern Division and Eastern Championship titles to claim its second NCAA berth in program history.
The three-day eight-team championship runs from May 10-12 at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool. Each team will play three games at the tournament.
The sixth-seeded Tigers (26-5, 5-0 Southern Division) will face third-seeded UCLA (26-6, 3-3 MPSF) in the quarterfinals on Friday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Southern Division Champs: For the second straight year and ninth time in program history, the Tigers won the CWPA Southern Division championship. The Tigers went a perfect 5-0 in divisional play and swept the competition at the three-game division tournament from Apr. 13-14.
Princeton has not lost a game in Southern play over the last two seasons.
Eastern Champs...Again!: The Tigers protected their CWPA Eastern crown, taking home the conference championship for the second consecutive year. After easily getting by its three opponents at Southerns to claim the No. 2 seed, Princeton faced tougher challenges en route to earning the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
Following a solid 16-3 win over George Washington, a comeback overtime effort was employed to edge past then-No. 17 Hartwick, 12-11. In the championship game, then-No. 18 Michigan opened with a 2-0 advantage before Princeton took control in the second quarter, 5-3, and carried that momentum to the final buzzer for a 7-5 victory.
Consecutive Eastern Titles: For the first time in program history Princeton won back-to-back Eastern titles. The Tigers won their first Eastern title in 2000, prior to the inception of the NCAA Championship.
Back to the Big Dance: 2012 marked the first time in program history the Tigers earned a berth to the NCAA Championship. Last year Princeton went 1-2, defeating Iona and falling to national runner-up Southern California and to Loyola Marymount in the fifth-place game.
Scouting UCLA: Third-ranked UCLA earned the second at-large bid into the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Bruins (26-6, 3-3 MPSF) are coming off a third-place finish at the MPSF Tournament, falling to then-No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals, 11-7.
UCLA is led by Emily Donahue and Rachel Fattal’s 63 and 62 goals, respectively. In the cage, Sami Hill has 281 saves, 164 goals against and a 6.25 goals against average in 30 starts.
All-Time vs. UCLA: UCLA owns the all-time series versus Princeton, 5-0. The two squads have not met since 2005, when they faced off twice in neutral sited matches in Southern California.
At Blodgett Pool: Princeton has not played at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool since 2012’s Harvard Invitational. The Tigers went 3-1, seeing its lone loss to then-No. 12 San Jose State, 13-12, on Mar. 3. The loss coincidentally snapped Princeton’s 14-game season opening winning streak.
Versus the Tournament Field: The Tigers have played two of the eight teams heading to NCAAs, going 1-1. Princeton defeated seventh-seeded Iona, 14-11, on Feb. 23 and fell to fourth-seeded Hawaii, 12-3, on Mar. 17.
Sister-Sister: Senior Rachele Gyorffy will see younger sister Vicky at Harvard this weekend. A sophomore at Pomona-Pitzer, this is the second consecutive year the Gyorffy sisters will have the potential opportunity to face each other at NCAAs.
Tigers Sweep Southern Honors: Princeton swept the Southern Division top honors, as Katie Rigler was named Player of the Year, Ashleigh Johnson earned Rookie of the Year and Luis Nicolao was voted Coach of the Year.
Johnson, Rigler and sophomore Taylor Dunstan were tabbed to the All-Southern First Team. Rounding out the Tiger honorees was sophomore Camille Hooks who was named to the second team.
Eastern Accolades: Following winning the Eastern Championship, Katie Rigler was named tournament MVP and Ashleigh Johnson was voted Rookie of the Tournament. Both were name to the all-tournament first team and Camille Hooks earned second team honors.
Rookie Sensation: Freshman Ashleigh Johnson made an immediate impact in the Tiger lineup and took over fulltime goaltending duties, starting all 31 games to head to NCAAs with a 26-5 record. The Southern Rookie of the Year and Eastern Rookie of the Tournament has already placed herself as one of the top goalies to ever play at Princeton.
She now owns the all-time single-season saves record with 328, eclipsing Goga Vukmirovic’s ’00 record of 302 in 1998. Johnson also set the single-game saves record in her career debut versus then-No. 4 California with 19 on Feb. 8.
Offensive Firepower: As she has done throughout her career, junior Katie Rigler headlines the Tiger offensive efforts. This season she has scored 61 goals, making her No. 9 in a single-season. She brought her career total to 193, moving her to fourth-best all-time in program history.
Serve It Up: The sophomore trio of Taylor Dunstan, Kelly Gross and Camille Hooks led the Tiger assist efforts, tallying 26 or more. Gross led the way with a team-high 31, tied for eighth-best in a single season. Dunstan dished 30 and Hooks tallied 26, for No. 11 and tied-No. 15 in program history, respectively.
In the Polls: Princeton has been ranked in the top-12 all season in the national top-20 poll. The Tigers have fluctuated between No. 10 and No. 12 and head to NCAAs tabbed at No. 10.
In March of 2000, Princeton earned its highest ranking ever at No. 8.
McCarthy-Beauvais ‘03 Inducted into CWPA Hall of Fame: Former Princeton women’s water polo standout Adele McCarthy-Beauvais ’03 was inducted into the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Hall of Fame. She is the first Princeton student-athlete or administrator selected and is the 23rd inductee by CWPA.