Aztecs win club water polo National Championship

by Zachary Loper, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This story was written while we were reconstructing our website. Out of respect for the women’s team we post it now to congratulate the Water Polo club team.

The women’s club water polo team pulled of a thrilling win in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Club National Champions against the University of Michigan in Geneva, Ohio.

The finale entered sudden death overtime, tied at 9-9 when sophomore Meghan Harder scored the game-clinching goal to give SDSU the victory. The victory capped off a long, hard-fought season in the most brilliant fashion.

In the team’s sixth active season, the Aztecs had only one previous CWPA tournament appearance, head coach Jamie Cassidy said. The team’s last appearance, in 2012, saw the Aztecs finish in fifth place. They knocked off California Polytechnic State University, the Pacific Coast division rival, giving them the third seed heading into the tournament.

The championship was a battle all weekend against powerhouses from all over the country. The Aztecs opened up with a 13-6 victory against New York University before downing Duke University with a 9-2 victory. In these two early wins, the Aztecs were able to run away early and give everyone on the bench playing time and their starters rest, which factored in huge later on in the tournament.

The Aztecs faced the Arizona State University Sun Devils in the semi-finals, a team they had seen earlier on in the season and fought in a back and forth battle against. However, the Aztecs entered the game with all the momentum and ran away with it early, finishing off with a 12-4 victory and clinching a spot in the national championship game.

With Michigan playing relatively close to home and coming in with a hot offense, scoring 41 goals in the first three games, SDSU had a fight on their hands. They upset the two time defending champions, University of California, Davis, taking away its chance at a third-straight championship.

SDSU maintained its lead throughout the match and entered the final period up 8-6. Then the Wolverines turned it up a notch with the offense, scoring two goals in the first few minutes to knot up the score. Madeline Schwartz gave the Aztecs the lead with three minutes left.

Michigan, as they had done all day, marched back and scored with one minute left, tying it up before the end of regulation.

In extra time, Michigan was the aggressor with 10 shots but the Aztec defense stepped up big, stopping shots and halting momentum. After two overtime periods, the Aztecs entered the sudden-death overtime.

Just 8 minutes and 54 seconds into extra time, the Aztecs captured their first championship in the longest CWPA final ever.

Though junior Aztec goalie Morgan Klingfus walked away with the tournament MVP, the whole team left champions after a wild day in the pool.

“The team had a goal to win the National Championship, it was all about winning in the end,” Cassidy said. “Everyone was excited for each other when they won an award. I’ve never witnessed anything like it, the team work and camaraderie, everyone had each other’s back.”

Cassidy had a great team but provided the winning recipe for the best season this team has ever seen. In her fourth year with the team, she has already been to two tournaments and now has one championship to show for all her hard work.