The CSU women’s water polo team (14-12) will return to California this weekend to compete in the third annual Loyola Marymount University Invitational.
The LMU Invite is a two-day event that starts Friday and includes nine teams from around the country. The Rams will play a total of four games at the Burn Recreation and Aquatic Center in Los Angeles.
The team is scheduled to play Sonoma State and San Diego State on Friday, followed by matches against Chapman and Loyola Marymount Saturday.
Head coach John Mattos calls the opening game against Somona State, “the game of the tournament,” because of its conference and playoff implications. The teams sit directly next to each other in the Western Water Polo Association standings with SSU ranked seventh and CSU eighth. CSU beat Somona State earlier this year by a score of 6-4.
A second win against the Seawolves would put the Rams in a better position for the WWPA Championships in late April.
The matches against SDSU and host Loyola Marymount will provide the team with two opportunities for an incredible upset. The SDSU Aztecs are ranked seventh and the LMU Lions fourth in the latest College Water Polo Association Division-I rankings.
Driver Annie Quinn said that such a win against a top-ranked school would be “amazing, especially coming from Colorado.”
Quinn has been on a tear in her second season as a Ram, amassing a school-record 17-game scoring streak that was snapped last week.
The sophomore from Salt Lake City ranks fourth in the nation with 55 goals.
CSU spent last week in California and finished with a 4-6 record. The Rams started the break off strong, netting a season-high 18 goals in a win over Macalester on March 11 in San Bernardino.
Losses in five of the next six games frustrated a team that felt it had underachieved during its trip through Southern California.
Despite the disappointing results, the Rams continued to show signs of improvement. The Rams played the nation’s 13th ranked team, UC San Diego, to a 2-2 tie entering halftime on March 16, showing that CSU is capable of pulling off an upset against a top-ranked team.
Strong play from senior goalie Holly Stanfill will be crucial if the Rams have plans of creating any kind of March Madness off their own.
“If Holly (Stanfill) has a great game and the shots get going, you never can tell,” said Mattos about the team’s chances this weekend.
Stanfill continues to play well in the net for CSU, ranking fourth in the nation with 151 saves.
The Rams will return home on April 15 for their final home game of the season against Colorado College.