Feb. 13, 2008
After graduating four seniors, including four of its top eight scorers last season, the Brown women's water polo team has some big shoes to fill in 2008. However, in its first season under Head Coach Felix Mercado, the men's Northern Division Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season this fall, the Bears are hoping to reload, rather than rebuild.
Leading the way will be the Bears' three sophomores, all of whom were named All-North in their rookie seasons. Lauren Presant (Poway, CA) led the team with 57 goals and 89 points in 2007, also finishing second with 39 steals and third with 32 assists. Sarah Glick (Bonita, CA) was second to Presant with 80 points, including a team-high 34 assists and 46 goals. Glick was particularly strong in CWPA games, leading the team 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points en route to First Team All-North honors. In goal, Stephanie Laing (Ann Arbor, MI) will try to improve on a solid freshman campaign that earned her Second Team All-North honors with Presant. Laing stopped 53.4 percent of the shots she faced, posting a 6.81 goals-against average, and showed a penchant for stepping up in big games, making 56 saves in four games at the Wolverine Invitational, where Brown beat Michigan and Indiana for the first time in at least four years.
After graduating dominant players at both two-meter positions, Brown will try to fill the void with a mix of experienced players and freshmen. Senior Alexis Blaxberg (Pinecrest, FL) will at least begin the season getting the bulk of the two-meter offense minutes. Her 32 goals last season are third among returning players, and her 44 ejections drawn led the team in 2007. Mercado is hoping to see freshman Joanna Wohlmuth (Manhattan Beach, CA) eventually work her way into more minutes up front as the season goes on, freeing Blaxberg to play on the perimeter as well.
On defense, sisters Rory and Katherine Stanton (Danville, CA) will take over at two-meters. Rory, a junior, scored 14 goals and had 23 assists last season, drawing 22 ejections. Katherine, a freshman, joins the team to hopefully form a solid tandem in front of Laing with her sister.
When she returns from competing for Brown's swimming and diving team, senior Ally Wyatt (Ypsilanti, MI) will bring an influx of outstanding perimeter defense and ball movement on offense. Wyatt had 48 points in 29 games, dishing 31 assists. Senior Emily Schwartz (Miami Beach, FL) is expected to see a large bump in playing time this season after scoring nine goals in 33 games last season. Senior Roxanne Palmer (Los Alamitos, CA) will continue being a strong locker room presence as well.
The Bears open the season at the 16-team Triton Invitational, which will feature 11 ranked teams. They'll follow that with the first-ever Elite 6 Tournament at Maryland, which will feature the top two teams from each of the CWPA's three divisions. After a week of games in the Northeast, including CWPA North games against Hartwick and Harvard, the Bears will travel back to California for their Spring Break trip, playing Sonoma State, Cal State Monterey Bay, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Stanford, and Cal.
After the trip, the Bears will head back east to play the remainder of their CWPA North schedule, as well as a weekend of non-division games against CWPA South teams at Princeton. Brown will play two home games at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., against Hartwick on April 12 and Harvard on April 15. The Harvard contest will serve as the Bears' final tune-up for the Northern Division Championship on April 19-20 at Utica College, followed by the Eastern Championship at Michigan on April 25-27.