After being announced as the 16th official sports team at CSU in
October, the women’s water polo team is getting ready to jump into
its first season at the varsity level.
Head coach John Mattos believes the talent pool for the sport is
After holding inaugural tryouts and signing the first seven
players to letters of intent for CSU’s newest varsity sport,
Mattos, who is also the swimming and diving head coach, and women’s
water polo are looking to sink the competition and receive a bid to
regionals in its inaugural season.
“We’ve finalized the schedule but many of the games that haven’t
been added yet will be against non-varsity teams,” Mattos said.
The team already signed the first three athletes to letters of
intent by the beginning of tryouts and almost finalized its
inaugural season schedule, Mattos said.
There are already three tournaments taking place in the spring
semester and possibly another one on the coast of California and
two more tournaments in the east. Then the conference championships
take place the last weekend of April.
Even though the sport is new to CSU’s varsity program, it is not
new to the freshly recruited players.
Marisa Fernandez from Grass Valley, Calif., attended Sierra
College and is a two-time community college All-American, an
all-northern California first-team player and an all-state team
“Marisa is an outstanding athlete who brings a wealth of
experience and a lot of knowledge to our program,” Mattos said.
“I’m excited about her skills and also about her maturity.”
Emily McCullough from Alamo, Calif., and Analise Quinn from Salt
Lake City were the second and third water polo players the Rams
signed. Emily McCullough is an all-north coast second team
selection as a senior.
“Emily is going to be a real star in our program,” Mattos said.
“She is an outstanding water polo player out of high school and we
are expecting great things out of her.”
Although expectations for women’s water polo are low,
considering its difficult division and the lack of varsity
experience, the Rams will have enough talent with a pair of
outstanding goaltenders. There will also be a boost from the
leadership experience of the two upperclassmen on the team, juniors
Fernandez and Holly Stanfill.
Stanfill will be the starting goaltender, and she has the
comfort of knowing that a formidable backup by the name of Andrea
Lugo from southern California is a member of the squad as well.
“We feel we’ll have a good plan in place to make the adjustment
to Division I play pretty quickly,” Mattos said. “Holly is an
All-American goalie in college and she has great abilities. Both
her and Andrea are great last-minute acquisitions that will have a
big impact on our success.”
Three athletes from last year’s CSU club team have been named to
the newest varsity team. Brittany McGinley, Katie MacKnight and
Laurien White are considered “lock-ons” for the team, in addition
to a few other unnamed players, Mattos said.
The ‘Bulls-eye’ Targets: Goaltenders
Mattos also stressed the importance of having a solid
goaltender, especially when the offensive talent still needs to be
developed and that offense depends on an outlet from their
“There’s no question about that. Goaltending makes a difference
for us,” Mattos said. “It’s a leadership position and they have to
spring the offense. They have to get the outlet passes in the right
lanes. They’ve got to be calling plays and calling the offense for
Last season the Rams played in the Southwest Region of the
College Water Polo Association, along with the University of
Colorado-Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, Air Force, Utah,
Northern Arizona and Arizona. CSU’s ‘A’ squad finished sixth at the
regional championships and its ‘B’ squad finished seventh.
This season, the team will compete in the same conference, but
at the varsity level. Mattos hopes the team will make to the
“We want a team that is aware of the competition out there
coming from the west of us,” Mattos said. “Our goal is to be the
best team east of the Rockies, so if we can do that, it will mean
there’s a chance to get a bid if we cannot get an automatic