Water polo to host Southern Championships

Christopher A. Smith

Despite its disappointing 2002 record, the women’s water polo team will have an opportunity to turn its season around if it can put together a strong performance this weekend at the Southern Division Championships. The three-day tournament will take place entirely at the Villanova Swim Center, from today through Sunday. The top six finishers in the tournament will advance to the Eastern Championships.

The Wildcats take their 5-17 record, including an 0-7 mark in the Southern Division, into their opening round match with nationally-ranked Indiana at 8:20 p.m. tonight. Villanova has been placed in Bracket D, along with the Hoosiers and Washington & Jefferson. The remainder of the Wildcats’ weekend schedule is dependent upon their performance in their first two games.

The ‘Cats’ leading scorer, freshman Ellen Howe, sees the weekend as an opportunity to put the rest of the season behind them.

“It has been a tough season because we are very young and we have played a tough schedule,” Howe said. “We feel we have a good chance to do well this weekend. We have a lot of individual talent, so it is just a matter of playing as a team.”

In her first season on the Main Line, Howe has already amassed 38 goals and 16 assists. “I attribute my performance this year to my teammates,” added Howe. “They have a lot of confidence in me and a lot of my goals have come with their help.”

Their last time out, the Wildcats dropped two games at the Bucknell Invitational on April 6. Villanova opened the day with a competitive contest against host Bucknell Bison. Trailing by just one goal heading into the fourth and final period, the ‘Cats were outscored 2-0, giving the Bison an 8-5 victory. The game featured rookie Denise Hanes in goal and she was impressive, making six saves. Offensively, Villanova was led by senior Janine Kusza, who scored two goals.

In the second match of the day, Villanova was led by senior Erin Agee, the team’s second leading scorer, who contributed three goals, raising her season total to an impressive 37. However, Agee’s effort was not enough, as the George Washington Colonials handed the Wildcats a 12-8 loss. The play of several Wildcat freshmen was encouraging, as Chesed Ceniseroz, Aimee Corsiglia and Howe added goals.

Villanova will need all the offense it can get from Agee and the freshmen if it is to overcome its tough season and triumph in its home pool in the Southern Championships.