Women’s Water Polo Earns No. 6 Seed at NCAA Championship
The two-time defending CWPA Eastern champion Princeton women’s water polo team earned the No. 6 seed in the 2013 NCAA Championship. The tournament will run from May 10-12 at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool and the Tigers will face at-large bid and No. 3 seed UCLA in the quarterfinals on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
“We are thrilled to be returning to NCAAs as Eastern champions,” said head coach Luis Nicolao. “We are heading to a pool we are familiar with and are looking forward to playing a tough UCLA team.”
The single elimination championship will continue through the weekend and all eight teams are guaranteed to play three games at the tournament.
The top three seeds went to teams from the MPSF in No. 1 Southern California, No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 UCLA. Both the Cardinal and Bruins earned the at-large bids into the eight-team field. Automatic qualifiers made up the fourth through eighth seeds in Hawaii (Big West), UC San Diego (WWPA), Princeton (CWPA), Iona (MAAC) and Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC), respectively.
No. 11 Princeton is 0-5 all-time versus fourth-ranked UCLA (26-6, 3-3 MPSF). The last time the Tigers and Bruins met was in 2005, squaring off twice in neutral sited matches in Southern California.
The Bruins enter NCAAs 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.
Princeton (26-5, 5-0 Southern) is coming off winning its seventh Southern Division and third Eastern title to advance to the NCAA Championship for the second time in program history.
The Tigers are 1-1 against the tournament field, posting a 14-11 victory over Iona on Feb. 23, before falling to then-No. 8 Hawaii, 12-3, on Mar. 17.
Princeton is led by Southern Division Player of the Year and Eastern Championship MVP Katie Rigler, who has a team-best 61 goals. Southern Rookie of the Year and Eastern Rookie of the Tournament Ashleigh Johnson has posted an outstanding freshman campaign going 26-5 with a 0.669 saves percentage. She’s tallied 328 saves, 41 steals and 20 assists in 31 starts.
In their first appearance at NCAAs in 2012, the Tigers also opened with the at-large bid and third-seeded Trojans of USC. After falling in the quarterfinals, Princeton topped seventh-seeded Iona in the consolation round and fell to fifth-seeded Loyola Marymount to finish in sixth place with a 1-2 record.