Defense wins championships. It’s a common phrase thrown around by many talking heads in the sports world, so it comes as no surprise that the San Diego State water polo team has put a premium on defensive intensity.
And the minister of defense for 9th-ranked SDSU is junior goalkeeper Kelly Campoli.
Campoli, from Lake Forest, has made quite a name for herself in her three years as an Aztec.
She has been named an honorable mention All-American the last two seasons by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. Campoli also has two consecutive seasons of at least 300 saves and is well on her way to a third as she has 238 saves this season through 21 games.
Head coach Carin Crawford realizes how important Campoli is to the team.
“In most sports, defense comes first, and that’s absolutely true in water polo,” Crawford said. “You need the best goalie you can find, and Kelly is that for us.”
Campoli’s dedication to the game is something that is recognized by her teammate Ashley Novack.
“It’s an honor to play with someone that dedicated,” Novack said. “She works extremely hard, and it helps everybody else on the team.”
With Campoli in the net, the team is able to stay in games when its offense isn’t quite running on all cylinders.
“She is critical to our success,” Crawford said.
Even though she has suffered some tough luck this season, Campoli hasn’t been pointing fingers.
“She’s had a couple of heartbreaking losses this year when she didn’t give many goals,” Crawford said. “But Kelly doesn’t play the blame game. She is willing to accept blame and it puts her teammates at ease.”
Even though she has enjoyed success in the pool, Campoli has stayed modest.
“She is willing to give us recognition,” Novack said.
“She never wants to brag about success,” Crawford added. “She is the most humble athlete I’ve ever coached. It really contributes to good team camaraderie.”
Campoli will have a chance to show her skills tomorrow as SDSU takes on conference opponent fifth-ranked Hawaii.
AT A GLANCE:
When: 9 p.m. today
Where: Oahu, Hawaii
Why to watch: The Aztecs will attempt to earn their first win in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play by upsetting the fifth-ranked Rainbow Wahine.