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Championship Bound!: The No. 10 Princeton women's water polo team
is headed to the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship for the first time in
program history. The tournament runs from May 11-13 at San Diego State's Aztec
Aquaplex in San Diego, Calif.
sixth-seeded Tigers (28-4 overall, 8-0 Southern Division) will face third seed
USC (21-5 overall, 5-2 MPSF) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4:45 p.m. ET.
of the eight-team slate will play three games over the three-day championship.
Eastern Champs: After winning the Collegiate Water Polo
Association (CWPA) Southern Division Championship for the eighth time in
program history, the Tigers went into the CWPA Eastern Championship as the No.
a first round bye, the Tigers defeated Harvard, 9-6, in the quarterfinals to
open the three-day tournament. In the semifinals versus Brown, a Camille Hooks
goal in the fourth quarter helped send the game into overtime. Hooks found the
back of the net in the first overtime period to propel Princeton past the
Bears, 7-6. In the championship game,
Princeton edged Maryland, 6-5, to win its second-ever Eastern Championship and
first in 11 years.
Division Honors: The 2011 Rookie of the Year Katie Rigler
again picked up one of the Southern Division's top honors, this time taking
home Player of the Year accolades. Sophomore Rigler was also named to the CWPA
All-Southern First Team, along with classmate Molly McBee. The senior tandem of
goalie Kristen Ward and center Audrey Zak were named to the second team.
All-Tournament Team: Katie Rigler was named Eastern Championship
MVP and to the all-tournament first team following her seven-goal performance.
She also tallied five ejections drawn, three steals and three blocks.
Camille Hooks earned first team honors and goalie Kristen Ward was selected to
the all-tournament second team.
History: This season Princeton earned its first berth
in program history to the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship, which was
established in 2001.
water polo became an official varsity sport at Princeton in 1997. Since then,
the Tigers have won eight CWPA Southern Division Championships, seven ECAC
Championships, two Eastern Championships and an Ivy League Championship. The
Tigers have made three trips (1998, 1999 and 2000) to the National Collegiate
Championship in program history, as well.
the Polls: Princeton has been ranked in the national
top-20 poll all season. Entering the NCAA Championship, the Tigers hold their
highest ranking of the year at No. 10.
March of 2000, Princeton earned its highest ranking ever at No. 8.
Championship Field: Princeton is one of eight teams making up the
field at the 2012 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship. The top three seeds
went to teams from the MPSF in Stanford, UCLA and USC, respectively, with both
Stanford and USC earning the two at-large berths. Automatic qualifiers made up
the fourth through eighth seeds in UC Irvine (Big West), Loyola Marymount
(WWPA), Princeton (CWPA), Iona (MAAC) and Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC), respectively.
Streaks: The Tigers currently are riding a seven-game
winning streak entering the tournament. Princeton opened the year with a 14-game
winning streak, the fourth-longest
streak in program history.
the Top-20: Versus the current national top-20, the
Tigers are 5-4. Princeton also defeated both UC San Diego and Harvard, who
earned votes towards a national ranking in the May 2 poll.
Leads Offense...Again: Sophomore Katie Rigler maintained
her stance as the team's top offensive performer in 2012, with 69 goals for No.
7 all-time in a single season. Rigler has scored 125 goals over her career,
ranking No. 10 all-time in program history.
the Record Book: Princeton's 28 wins establishes a new
program-best record and its 331 goals this season ranks third-best in program
the Cage: Senior goalie Kristen Ward further cemented
her stance as one of the top goalies in Princeton history, as she currently
boasts 881 career saves, for second-best in program history. Her 256 saves in
2012, is No. 2 all-time in a single season.
Dreamin': With 12 of the team's 15 players hailing from
the Golden State, this weekend's championship will be a homecoming for many of
Make Immediate Contributions: This season
all six freshmen have made consistent contributions on both the offensive and
defensive ends of the pool. The Tiger offense was bolstered substantially by
the newbies, as 139 of Princeton's 351 goals scored this season were by the
freshmen. Jessie Holechek leads the group with 33 goals in 29 games.
Current Tiger junior Rachele Gyorffy will have potential opportunity
to face her younger sister Vicky at this weekend's championship. Freshman Vicky
is a member of the Pomona-Pitzer team, who will open with Stanford in the
No. 3 USC: No. 3 USC heads to San Diego following its
third-place finish at the MPSF Conference Championship. The third-seeded
Trojans (21-5 overall, 5-2 MPSF) earned one of two at-large bids into the
tournament and are 2-5 versus the NCAA Championship field.
Gilchrist leads the Southern California offense with 43 goals, seeing the back
of the net in 22 of the Trojans games this year. In goal, Flora Bolonyai has
played in 23 games, spanning 86 periods. She's made 180 saves and allowed 110
goals against, for an .840 saves percentage and .510 goals against percentage.
All-Time vs. USC: The Tigers are 0-1 all-time versus the
Trojans, dropping a 10-4 decision at USC on Mar. 18, 1998.
Goes to Second NCAA Championship in 2011-12 Year: Fourteenth
season head coach Luis Nicolao made Princeton water polo history by reaching
the NCAA Championship with both the men's and women's teams in the same year.
On the men's side, he's guided the Tigers to three NCAA
appearances, most recently in Fall 2011. With the women, in addition to
advancing the NCAAs for the first time in program history this spring, he
reached the 300-win milestone earlier this season.