For the women’s water polo team, high expectations are inevitable, especially when the three previous seasons have culminated in the crowning of one championship after another, after another.
But this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Bruins will focus on their ambition for 2008, not the success of their past three seasons.
The Bruins will begin their season Saturday when they take on Arizona State and UC San Diego in the Michigan Invitational.
The team faces Colorado State and Indiana on Sunday.
Despite being named preseason No. 1 in the MPSF coach’s poll, a ranking anticipating yet another top-notch performance is anything but at the forefront of the team’s priorities.
“No. 1 and probably most important is just for us to be able to execute some of the things we have been working on in an actual game setting,” coach Adam Krikorian said. “That’s something I’m really looking forward to, seeing how we do on the aspects that we’ve been working on.”
Senior Jillian Kraus said that one of the biggest tests for the weekend will be seeing how well everyone meshes together, how the veterans and the newcomers will foster new relationships for the upcoming season.
“The main challenge is coming together as a team and getting comfortable with each other,” Kraus said. “Obviously this weekend will be important for that.”
This year’s team is comprised of 12 freshmen and 11 returnees. As a result, Krikorian said that he will integrate the new players into the games as opportunities present themselves.
“We’re going to play it as it goes,” Krikorian said. “We have set rotations that we will use, but some of it will be dependent on our competition too and what the game is like. … It will be a kind of wait-and-see, play it by ear kind of thing when they’re able to get into the game.”
Even with the chemistry among the players still evolving, a commitment to the team’s performance has remained strong. Regardless of their opponent and their strategies, the women’s primary concern is to effectively execute what they have practiced and initially set out to accomplish.
“It doesn’t really matter who we are playing in these first games, especially when you play a team for the first time,” Krikorian said. “We’re going to concentrate just on what we’ve been working on and focusing, not on thinking about the other teams and their personnel, what they do and don’t do. It’s more about us and how we execute.”
While focus and drive are key components to the Bruins’ strategy, the anticipation over the first games of play should not go unnoticed.
“We’ve been training for three weeks now, and we’re pumped to play games,” junior Tanya Gandy said. “We’re just looking forward to playing together.”