Jan. 31, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State's women's water polo team is ready to begin the 2012 season, as the No. 16 49ers will host No. 8 San Diego State at Noon on Saturday, February 4 in the Campus Pool.
The 49ers had the bad luck to fall two spots in the polls despite not playing any water polo last weekend; Long Beach State was ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll released in the beginning of January.
Under head coach Gavin Arroyo, the 49ers made a late charge last season and were one win away from the NCAA tournament after reaching the Big West Tournament championship following a pair of thrilling one-goal wins. Arroyo hopes that the experience that the team's younger players received in that run will help offset the loss of a number of starters, including senior Lauren Sieprath, goaltender Kristen Stragier, and defender Krizia Cerda. "I feel like that success will give us a little more individual confidence, which is only going to help us as we move forward," stated Arroyo.
Despite those losses, the 49ers have plenty of experience from an older group. Heather McKeon is the only senior on the team, but the two classes behind her have gotten plenty of experience, including a large junior class of five players who enter the year as upperclassmen. "Our success this season is really going to rely on that group and how they are able perform as the season progresses," said Arroyo.
Additionally, the team will be looking at a number of sophomores to help supplement the team's depth. Julia Garyfallou is the team's leading returning scorer with 34 goals last season, and will be asked to again draw upon her extensive international experience to help carry the load offensively. Kelly Ringel will fill the shoes of Stragier, who graduated with the school's career saves record after spending four years as a starter. Ringel made 26 saves in 2011 as a backup and actually held a better goals against average in her time at net, and should be able to capably serve as the team's netminder. Also returning from that class is sophomore Coriann Snyder, who scored 25 goals in 2011, third among returning team members behind Garyfallou and junior Melissa Matheson.
Long Beach State hosts San Diego State this Saturday, and will then head to the Triton Invitational before returning to the Campus Pool on Saturday, Feb. 18 to face UC San Diego.
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