One of the constants in the world of SCIAC water polo is the excellence of Pomona-Pitzer on both the men's and women's side and this spring was no exception. Pitzer once again qualified for NCAA Championships and tested UCSD in the opening round before succumbing 13-9. They had quite a season in winning the SCIAC and going 23-14.
The Sagehens are led by Alexander Rodriguez who has won four SCIAC titles on the men's side and six on the women's side. The 2012 Monte Nitzkowski Award winner has qualified for NCAAs six times on the women's side and has won three matches while there. As a player, Rodriguez was an All-American and member of Pepperdine's 1997 NCAA Championship team.
1. Your Pomona-Pitzer teams always seem to peak at the end of the season and this year was no exception as you won the SCIAC and battled UCSD in a tough game at NCAAs. Can you tell us about your team's season and theirgrowth throughout it?
We started out our season getting everyone fit as soon as possible for opening competition. This is a constant battle as we do not have practice in the fall or winter before season. But the women are very motivated and I think this helps get them through the first few weeks which are rough. We played against comparable teams and we were able to maintain a solid record against them, as well as challenge ourselves against tough opponents in our Convergence tournament (UCSD, LBSU, UCI, and CSU Monterey Bay), the LMU invite (LMU and Princeton), and our games against Bucknell and Harvard mid season. When we got in to conference play we had several important games under our belt. But there is a sort of adjustment that has to occur before you can truly hit your stride. Such an adjustment was made after our game against Occidental, and the rest of conference play was spent undefeated. The tournament was a true testament to our abilities, and we were able to cut through each opponent as the superior team. Winning the SCIAC was something we were capable of all season, but it's not enough to be the best team. We wanted to win the championship, and we wanted the chance to prove ourselves in the NCAA play-in game against UCSD. I think we had a strong showing of our Pomona-Pitzer athletes i that game.
2. Sarah Westcott was a lethal scorer for you this Spring. What makes her so effective at getting goals on the board?
Sarah Westcott is a tremendous competitor, and her competitive drive is unmatched. She is such an effective athlete because a lot of what she does is create opportunities for more offense. And it's not just goals for herself, but for her teammates as well. She is our leader in exclusions drawn, much of our extra-man opportunities and goals were created through her tenacious attack. Not to mention her contributions in counter attack goals.
3. Alyssa Woodward was also a first-team All-SCIAC pick for your team. What makes her the outstanding player that she is?
Alyssa Woodward is a true utility player, and she can score from any position that she plays. But the beauty of her game comes from her outside shot, which is completely lethal and what she is best known for. She isalso an excellent post-up player and driver. Teams can prepare for her at any of these positions, but she will always be a threat from wherever she is in the pool.
4. You could be fielding your strongest squad ever on paper next Spring.as you return Westcott, Woodward, Vicky Gyorffy and Mahalia Prater-Fahey. In fact, your team only had one senior in total. What are you expecting from your group next season?
I agree with that statement. I am returning basically my whole squad, with some major players. I'm expecting the Seniors next year to have their best season yet. As well as, some of the sophomores to step up andcontribute a great deal in order to have another successful season. I also expect some great additions from our incoming freshmen. I hope to win the SCIAC championship, and make another run for the NCAA championsh tournament. We've shown what we are capable of, and all we can do is better than this year.
5. The women in the SCIAC have had an automatic bid to NCAAs for awhile now, however last season was the first time that was the case for the men. How exciting is it to have that as the case now?
It is very exciting to have the same opportunity for the women and men, in regards to the NCAA championship tournament. We have the chance to create more opportunities for college athletes through this change.
With that our interview ended. I look forward to watching the Sagehens next Spring as I think this will be their best team ever. It would not surprise me if they fight their way into the second day of the Dance as this team will have a nice blend of returning experience and great coaching