Spring break is here and the CSU women’s water polo team will be spending its in California, only they won’t be tanning at the beach or drinking at the bars. They will be sweating it out in the pool playing 10 games in a span of nine days.
“We’re definitely in shape to play that many games,” sophomore Sarah Ostling said. “We’re probably the most in shape team out there, and we have to be because we don’t have as many players as other teams.”
The Rams will face some of the best teams in the nation, including No. 6 San Diego State, No. 14 Long Beach State and No. 16 University of California-San Diego, whom the Rams opened the season against, losing 19-8.
“UCSD handled us pretty well earlier this season,” Rams coach John Mattos said.
The Rams will look for revenge tonight at 7 against the UCSD Tritons 9-12 (5-3), and Ostling thinks the team is better prepared for this match-up.
“We know how they play, and we know what’s coming this time and we feel we have gotten better since we last played them. I think we can definitely beat them,” Ostling said.
After tonight’s game, the team will stay in San Diego and begin play in the San Diego State University Aztec Invitational Saturday afternoon with a matchup against the SDSU Aztecs followed by an evening match against Long Beach State. On Sunday the Rams will play games against No. 20 Princeton, Pacific and WWPA foe Cal State Bakersfield (11-9, 6-3).
Following the Aztec Invitational, the team will continue its tour across California with stops in Orange, San Bernardino and Redlands to finish out their 10-day trip.
The Rams’ record currently stands at 5-13, 5-6 in the conference, but that mark could get worse after this brutal California trip. But coach Mattos says this is a process the team must go through before taking that next step to becoming an elite program.
“It is tough on the psyche after losing, but it builds character and we’re going to have to go through stretches like this before we get to where we want to go as a program,” Mattos said.
Ostling echoed the same message.
“The confidence of this team is kind of low right now, but we have to change our mentality by thinking positive and putting behind us what has happened and instead focus on what’s ahead,” Ostling said.
What’s ahead is perhaps a bright future, as this season has given a number of freshmen the opportunity to step in and gain some valuable playing time which could pay off at the end of the season.
Freshman Ali Pavlik is second on the team with 27 goals scored while fellow freshman Andrea Victoria is second on the team in steals recording 22 while also pouring in 12 goals.
“This season has given us a chance for a young team to get experience fast,” Mattos said, “and once we find our stride, there is no telling what we can do.”
The Rams may be slowly hitting their stride, evidenced by their game against No. 10 UC-Davis last weekend in the Loyola Marymount Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif. Although they lost 13-6, they were within four at halftime and gained invaluable confidence that they can hang with the best teams in the country, something they couldn’t say at the beginning of the season.
“Our record is not that good, but we’ve been playing well lately against teams that should beat us and that’s something positive to look at for the remainder of the season,” Mattos said.
The team finished with a 1-3 record at the Loyola Marymount Tournament, its only win coming against Chapman 15-4.