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Water polo book place in National Tournament

Grinnell%E2%80%99s+Water+Polo+Team+in+action+at+the+conference+tournament+where+they+earned+second+place.+In+doing+so%2C+they+booked+their+place+to+compete+at+the+national+tournament++hosted+by+Villanova+University+on+April++27+and+28.+
Grinnell’s Water Polo Team in action at the conference tournament where they earned second place. In doing so, they booked their place to compete at the national tournament hosted by Villanova University on April 27 and 28.
Grinnell’s Water Polo Team in action at the conference tournament where they earned second place. In doing so, they booked their place to compete at the national tournament hosted by Villanova University on April 27 and 28.

By Ray Goedeker
goedeker@grinnell.edu

This past weekend, Grinnell’s club water polo team finished second in their conference tournament, earning a spot in the Division III national tournament.

“As a whole we have grown so much — during conference we were really just playing great as a team. I believe we grew through the year due to playing and learning a lot in previous tournaments,” said Anika-Jane Beamer ’22.

Sophie Doddimeade ’21 added, “The team bonded really well this year through all the hard work [we] put into practices and tournaments. We are all very excited about heading to nationals.”

The team struggled in the first half of the season, losing in their first pre-conference tournament at Carleton College. This struggle came from the number of new players the team brought on this year. First-years totaled over a quarter of the whole team, while captain Camille Hall ’19 stood as one of the five fourth-years. The team lost core senior members after last season and has tried to grow together throughout this spring.

“We really struggled this year without having a true goalie. Last year we had a great senior goalie, and trying to replace that position has been really tough,” said Hall.

“The team did really grow, looking back at the beginning and comparing it to where we are now at the end of the season, it is really incredible. Because we had so many new players, it was refreshing to see the team chemistry tighten as games were played and the season progress” Doddimeade said.

In the conference tournament, played on April 13 and 14, Grinnell was ranked as the third seed competitor, behind Carleton, which placed first, and Augustana College, which placed second. With a tremendous effort, the lower-seeded Grinnell ‘Fireballz’ beat Augustana in an 11-to-10 bout. Then, after a convincing 15-5 victory over fifth seed Knox College, Grinnell was allowed to move onto the championship final. The final game between Grinnell and Carleton ended in a 7-4 loss for Grinnell, though a spot in nationals was still cemented by this strong pioneer’s team.

“Going from losing all of our games besides a couple of forfeits to performing like a true team in conference was really gratifying. … If there is one goal for the team heading into the national tournament, it would be to just give the absolute best performance we possibly can,” Beamer said.

“Around 14 players of the 18 will go to nationals … all we can hope for is that those players have their best showing,” Doddimeade added.

The players are optimistic about the upcoming national Division-III-only tournament, looking to achieve more than in last year’s national run where Grinnell went up against large division one programs and had trouble competing.

“Last year was a big challenge because we had to play schools with large budgets and extremely talented players, whereas our team consists of a lot of people who are just starting out and want to have fun. We are looking forward to this next tournament because we will be facing teams like our own program,” said Olivia Konieczny ’21.

The Grinnell College water polo team will be playing in the national tournament at Villanova University on April 27 and 28.

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