The premier of a new season of women’s water polo in the United States is fast approaching – and we can’t wait.
Although most of the serious games doesn’t begin for another few weeks, several clubs will plunge into action over the coming fortnight.
Nearly all of the nation’s top universities have cemented their rosters for the 2023 season, which includes a sway of exciting new recruits.
Of course, not all teams have published their finalised rosters, but we have generated a scouting report detailing what we know so far. You can make your own minds up on who has done the best bits of business, but as ever, we eagerly anticipate a glimpse of the first varsity poll published by the CWPA later this weekend.
With many more features to come on collegiate water polo in the USA, lets start with a run-down on all the big recruitment news.
Reigning NCAA champions Stanford, as they often do, have really used their considerable influence to sign the cream of the crop
Adding to their extremely strong existing outfit, the eight-time national champions snatched up two players who recently broken into the senior national team: Jenna Flynn and Ella Woodhead, who, alongside other Cardinal signing Maggie Hawkins, played a huge part in the United States U18 team that won gold at the World Championships in Belgrade over the summer. That’s three excellent home-grown talents we can expect big things from in the future.
On top of that, another player who featured heavily in those Junior World Championships was Serena Browne, who scored twenty-three goals in six games. When the opportunity presented itself, the Cardinal wasted no time in signing one of Canada’s best up-and-coming stars.
In a nutshell, a pretty impressive shift from the Stanford recruitment team.
The Cal Bears have always had a team of immense class, talent and prestige. But with the departures of leading figures such as Emma Wright, Kitty Joustra and Elli Protopapas, there are some big gaps to plug for the Bears.
Despite her youth, the incoming Milie Quin is one of New Zealand’s best players, and she is a perfect match to join Coralie Simmons’ ranks, while Janna Tuascher, an important reinforcement at centre-forward, won’t need any time to adapt to Berkeley after red-shirting in bear territory last season.
In addition, three USA pipeline athletes, Abbi Magee (Utility), Lindsey Harris (Centre) and Nieve Courtney (Attacker) will make the Spieker Aquatics centre their home over the next few months.
Solid from Cal.
It has been twelve long years since UCLA last won an NCAA championship, and losing Maddie Musselman, their all-time leading scorer and two-time winner of the Total Player Award, will leave a void that no player on the planet could fill. But with some key retentions, and some excellent additions, Adam Wright will feel optimistic about whats to come as the former Olympian enters his sixth year as the Bruins women’s head coach.
U18 World Champion Genoa Rossi, as well as USA senior international Taylor Smith, both opt the Bruins amidst interest from elsewhere, while Sienna Green, who won gold at the Intercontinental Cup in Lima with the Aussie Stingers, adds real firepower for the seven time national champions.
Last season, Marko Pintaric’s USC Trojans narrowly missed out on the NCAA title, losing in the championship game to Stanford. However, as one of only three teams to have ever won the national championship, as recently as 2021, the Trojans are always guaranteed top pickings when recruiting new players.
The Trojans weren’t timid in signing on the dotted line. There are as many as nine newcomers to Southern California, but a chunk will red-shirt for this coming season.
A lot of attention will be paid to Morgan Netherton and Maggie Johnson, both members of USA’s golden 2004 generation, while Hannah Carver and Caitlin Cohen, both of whom have USC heritage in their respective family trees, didn’t take much convincing.
From Hungary, Fanni Muszany, a former player of FTC Telekom, joins the six-time national champions on transfer from Fresno State; Serbian international, Jelena Sarac, arrives from Crvena Zvezda.
The tall figure of Jada Ward joins the Trojans, and is one of four goalkeepers in the squad.
Let’s see if the balance of quantity and quality works for last seasons runners-up.
Arizona Sun Devils
The Arizona Sun Devils find themselves in the toughest conference in the country, so their need to bring in top players is imperative. Luckily for Hungarian coach Petra Pardi, her recruitment team has done a stellar job so far on the acquisition front.
Juliette D’halluin is the hottest young talent France has at the moment, and she was confirmed as a Sun Devil last summer. In what is a real coup for Arizona, the seventeen-year-old left-hander featured heavily for Emilien Bugeaud’s national team at the World Championships and the European Championships in Split, where France secured top-eight finishes in both.
Meanwhile, Sophie Shorter-Robinson, a full senior international for New Zealand, certainly bolsters the Devil’s options at centre.
Alexa Knutson is a talented young keeper, and Kelsey Matthies enjoyed a glamorous goal-scoring record at junior level heading to her new team in Tempe.
Long Beach State
Shana Welch and Long Beach will be overjoyed to welcome young Spanish international Elisa Portillo into their ranks. Portillo was a key player at the Madrid-based club Boadilla, which, owing to her huge in-game impact, has struggled since her departure to the United States.
LBS will also see the arrival of Emma Seehafer – a German international and the daughter of well-known Waspo Hannover head coach, Karsten Seehafer.
Michigan has qualified for the last six NCAA national finals, but have only ever managed to make the semi-finals twice in their history. However, with the departure of Marcelo Leonardi from Ann Arbor, Cassi Churnside will vowel to freshen things up for the Wolverines.
The addition of six new players, including New Zealand national Issy Jackson (who plays 4-5), could have as much of an effect on the team as the hiring of the new coach. Brooke Ingram, who plays centre at both ends of the pool, arrives from Santa Barbara 805, while Madie Ambrose is a goalkeeper with big prospects
University of the Pacific
James Graham, the head coach of the Pacific Tigers, has doubled down on the Hungarian Alaksza twins, with Dora and Noemi, both of BVSC, heading to Sacramento for the 2023 season, where they will join fellow Hungarian, Sophomore Szamira Koppany. The Tigers have also confirmed the signing of Alicia Petkov, a silver medalist with Canada at the 2022 Pan American Junior water polo championships.
San Jose Spartans
Sinia Plotz headlines the SJSU Spartans’ recruiting class. Plotz, a German international, is one of her nation’s brightest stars.
Beth Harberts has also engaged the services of two members of the USAWP Olympic Development Program; Genevieve Larkin and Tatianna Raffin. Former Mexican International, Ivanna Anderson-Villela, arrives as a Graduate player.
Dan Klatt has scoured the talent pool in California to bolster his squad for the 2023 season. The reigning Big West champions from UC Irvine aim to make their eighth appearance in the NCAA tournament this season.
It will be difficult, however, due to the departure of key players to Europe, including Tara Prentice (Sant Andreu) and Isabel Rack (Patra).
The anteaters bring in two keepers, including Delaney Keupper and Erin Tharp – the latter of whom is a former NCAA champion with USC.
USAWP Academic all-american, Olivia Giolas will take up a position at centre, supported by the versatile Charley Birdsall and attackers Maddie Kasper and Avy Newton.
Josh Hower and the Seahawks have assembled a small but solid recruiting class. Junior European Bronze medalist with the Setterosa, Martina Parisi, joins from Napoli, while Aussie Stinger U18, Magali Ogg is also a new addition to the roster.
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