Women’s Water Polo Prepares for Postseason


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

The women’s water polo team has some tough matchups ahead as it prepares for postseason play.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

The Villanova women’s water polo team went 1-2 over the weekend, picking up a win against Iona and dropping games against No. 15 Wagner and at La Salle. The loss to La Salle on Sunday put the ‘Cats one game behind the Explorers for the final playoff spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). In the MAAC, the top four teams in the conference make the playoffs, with the winner of the conference playoff receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship. 

The ‘Cats have two games remaining in their push for the playoffs, both at home. They take on La Salle again on Friday and face last-place Virginia Military Institute on Saturday. The Wildcats will need to win both games over the weekend to have a chance at the playoffs, with the La Salle game holding more immediate importance. 

“A lot of us have a lot of motivation to get to conference, especially our seniors, they’ve worked hard to build this program in the last couple of years,” starting goalie Sarah Shaw said. “So I think beating La Salle is the goal. I think we’re just gonna work hard in practice to get there. We’re going to focus on cleaning up the defense and getting everything squared away that needs to be squared away. If we come out and play our best game, I think that we can absolutely destroy La Salle.”

The ‘Cats went into the fourth period tied up with La Salle at seven in this past weekend’s matchup but gave up five goals in the final period, going down, 12-9. La Salle only outshot the ‘Cats by one but out-assisted 8-2. 

That performance was in contrast to the prior game, where the Wildcats only gave up six goals total in an 8-6 home victory over Iona. 

“We had nine field blocks in that game, which is a really high statistic.” Shaw said. “That makes my job easier as a goalie because fewer shots are making it to me in the cage. We also had a lot of emotional drive behind this game based on how the last game finished against Iona, [with it] going into overtime.”

Shaw spoke on what making the playoffs would mean to the team after a long season. 

“I think for us, it would just be seeing all of our hard work pay off and be like, ‘Hey, we can compete with these teams, these ranked teams that are in our conference.’” Shaw said. “We’re out there, and we’re putting up a good fight, and we’re making it known that Villanova water polo is here and we’re here to stay.”

If the ‘Cats were to make the conference playoffs, they would likely face No. 15 Wagner. Wagner currently stands undefeated in the conference, having only lost three games all year, all to other nationally ranked programs. The ‘Cats have faced Wagner twice this year, dropping the first game on March 19, 22-7, and the second one this past weekend, 15-7.

Whether the ‘Cats can make an upset run is yet to be seen, but they will first have to deal with La Salle and Virginia Military Institute to even have a chance at the conference top dog, Wagner.