With just two seniors, almost the entire roster knows nothing but winning at the CWPA Championship, and the Princeton women's water polo team will aim to keep it that way this weekend.
With a trip to the NCAA Championship on the line, Princeton will enter the tournament at Bucknell as the two-time defending champion, yet although the Tigers are the highest-ranked team in the event, they are the No. 2 seed. The top-seeded team in the eight-team event is Indiana, the winner of the CWPA Western Division title and a team on an eight-game winning streak.
Princeton, ranked No. 9 in the nation in the April 23 CWPA poll, has won 14 in a row and is the CWPA Southern Division champion, and neither the Tigers nor the 12th-ranked Hoosiers have lost to a team from east of California this season. Indiana is one of two teams in the eight-team event that Princeton has not faced this season, with Connecticut College, the No. 8 seed and Indiana's first-round opponent, as the other.
Among teams in the field that Princeton has faced this season, the Tigers are unbeaten, a combined 9-0 against Hartwick, Michigan, Brown, Bucknell and Harvard, the third through seventh seeds in the event. Those nine wins are among the 29 Princeton has this season against just one loss, tying the program record for wins alongside the 2012 team.
Princeton will start its quest for a third straight CWPA title against Harvard at 1:30 p.m. Friday, and the Tigers will face either Bucknell or Hartwick in its second game Saturday. The classification games will take place Sunday, with the two teams battling for the NCAA automatic bid competing at 1:30 p.m.
Princeton has won three CWPA/Eastern Championships in program history, in 2000, 2012 and 2013. The first title came the year before the NCAA Championship began, and the 2012 title marked Princeton's first trip to the NCAAs. If Princeton is able to win a third straight CWPA title, it would become only the third program to win three straight since the event began in 1988, joining Slippery Rock (1988-96) and Michigan (2008-10).
Though senior Katie Rigler, who has scored 62 goals this season, leads the team in that category, six players have at least 30 goals, including fellow senior Molly McBee (44), junior Ashley Hatcher (48), sophomore Diana Murphy (44), junior Jessie Holechek (36) and sophomore Pippa Temple (31). Sophomore Ashleigh Johnson has a .720 save percentage while starting 27 of the team's 30 games.