Water Polo Kicks Off Season, Geared Up for MAAC Title
By: MADISON MCCARTHY / SPORTS CO-EDITOR
Long Island University’s Women’s Water Polo team began its third season competing this past weekend at the Michigan Invitational, winning matches against Salem University, 16-6, and the #10 ranked Indiana University, 14-9.
The Sharks begin the new season following a disappointing 2021 season after being withdrawn from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships.
Despite only having eight active players for the final two games of the season, the team secured its spot in the championship, only to be withdrawn the day before competition due to logistical reasons.
The LIU Athletic department did not respond to requests for comment. Last season, the team was undefeated, ranked 24th in the nation.
Despite the challenges of last season, newly appointed co-captains Jessica Dean and Kate Hinrichs are looking forward to a new start this season.
Dean, excited for her new role on the team, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity.
“To be voted co-captain for such a wonderful team not only makes me happy but makes me want to work that much harder to make this program as successful as possible,” Dean said. “I love my team and this season will be a great one.”
The team begins the new season with the addition of three first year players: Jayda Myers, Amelia Sanchez, and Emma Sardo.
Freshman Jayda Myers is already feeling right at home in Brooklyn. “We are really bonding together which makes me really excited to start a season and win games with these girls!” Myers said.
“I have always wanted to play division one water polo and now I’m here in this opportunity, competing against great water polo players, and it’s getting me pumped up to compete at their level,” she added.
During the off-season, sophomore Elena Camarena represented Spain in the Junior World Championships and defeated Greece in the final match, making her a world champion.
Camarena, coming off of this victory, is excited to play with her college teammates again.
“I’m ready to do whatever I can to help us win and I think we are going to do great,” Camarena said.
While the team has experienced major setbacks for the past two seasons, with its first inaugural season canceled due to the pandemic and the second shortened to just in-conference matches, the Sharks are ready to have another shot at the MAAC title.
The 2022 MAAC Preseason Coaches’ poll has LIU tied for third, but the team feels they have a shot at the program’s first conference title.
Junior Kate Fischer expressed the confidence she has in her team to bring home their first MAAC title. “Our team works incredibly hard in and out of the water,” Fischer said. “I’m excited to prove that this season.”
“I’m also grateful to have a full season for the first time in three years,” Fischer added.
One obstacle that could stand in the way of a conference title is the return of former MAAC conference champions, Wagner College, after they opted out of the 2021 season due to COVID-19.
While Wagner is a tough opponent, Fischer offered her thoughts on competing with them. “To be the best you have to play with the best. I think our team is ready for any challenges that come our way, including facing Wagner,” she said.
Following tough losses to UCLA and Stanford University on the second day of the Michigan Invitational, the Sharks are gearing up to compete this weekend, February 5-6, at the Bruno Classic in Providence, Rhode Island. The team will face off against La Salle University and Saint Francis University on Saturday, and Brown University on Sunday.
For more on the team’s progress, visit liuathletics.com and follow the team Instagram @liuwaterpolo.