Making Waves with Mattos

Aug 242004
Authors: Justin Goldman

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

other teams.”

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

regional tournament.

“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


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