The UC Irvine Women’s Water Polo team (10-21, 3-8) finished the season ranked 17th in the nation after placing 11th at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships recently held from April 30 to May 2 at Los Alamitos.
‘It was a great finish for us,’ said Head Coach Marc Hunt. ‘We had some great execution and I’m very happy with how the team played.’
The season kicked off with a mini-tournament in Santa Barbara where the team won twice, over Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Northridge. They went on to defeat teams such as Hawaii and Hartwick, both of which are ranked in the nation’s top-10.
‘In women’s water polo there’s a lot of parity,’ Hunt said. ‘The sport is very competitive. To place in the top-10 in the nation, it’s really a great achievement.’
Freshman Robyn Kaake scored 47 goals to finish 13th in the MPSF this season. Seniors Erica Horman and Melissa Fernandez finished with 35 and 34 goals, respectively. Kaake had a career-high five goals in a victory over Pacific in their final match of the MPSF championships. It is the second-most goals ever scored by a single player in a single game. She shares this school record with Fernandez, who also scored five against Hartwick.
The program, which kicked off four years ago, will graduate eight seniors, seven of whom have been here since the beginning.
Horman was an honorable mention All-American in 2003 and holds the record at UCI, scoring 208 goals during her four-year career. She also holds the school record for most goals scored in a single season with 65.
2003 All-MPSF honorable mention honoree Fernandez is second with 152 goals.
With 712 career saves, departing goalkeeper Sun Chamblee holds every UCI saves record. Her 6.52 saves per game average was sixth in the MPSF.
Also graduating will be Horman’s older sister, Hillary, Rebecca Wedemeyer, Michelle Carey, Erika Ranes and Tiffany Frish.
The departure of eight seniors ‘affects the team entirely,’ Hunt said. ‘We’re losing close to half of the team. Most of [those girls] had been here since the program began.’
However, he feels that this will be a chance for the returning players to shine.
‘It gives opportunity for people to step up and it’s up to them to do that,’ Hunt said.
Hunt served as the interim coach for the Anteaters this season. He will return in the fall as assistant coach of the men’s water polo team, a position he has held for the last three years.
Dan Klatt, who is currently training with the U.S. National Team for the Olympics, will take over as the Anteater women’s head coach next season.