Women’s water polo blog: Hard work pays off

April 9, 2015, 12:11 a.m.

Thirty-one days. The number of days until our NCAA championship is disappearing quickly and getting smaller and smaller. We are just getting more and more excited.

Senior Ashley Grossman has scored 12 goals in her last 4 games, putting her second on the team with 43 on the season. Grossman will play a crucial role in the team's upcoming showdown with UCLA.
Senior Ashley Grossman has scored 12 goals in her last 4 games, putting her second on the team with 43 on the season. Grossman will play a crucial role in the team’s upcoming showdown with UCLA. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/stanfordphoto.com)

A lot has happened since I last updated. With the end of winter quarter final exams, our team was given the opportunity to focus on water polo and each other without school or anything outside of the pool getting in the way. Spring break was a great way for us to hone in on individual skill work and really get familiar with one another both in and out of the water.

We trained very hard everyday and really broke down little things we could each improve about our game. This proved to be successful in our recent games against Arizona State, UC Davis and San Jose State. We always stress defense and focus on the fact that if we hold a team to zero goals, there is absolutely no way that we can lose a game.

Our recent games have been telling of our defensive ability, but the most exciting thing we took away from these games was our cohesiveness on offense. We seemed to be lacking a sort of rhythm that our team is capable of when we work together that really showed up in our recent games.

Everyone has been putting away their opportunities with a lot more confidence, and there seems to be a wave of excitement both in games and practice that was missing before. It has been amazing to watch my teammates make incredibly selfless plays to open each other up and to see people playing off of each other’s efforts on offense with great passes.

Passing is another extremely important part of our offense that we have been trying to clean up. We focus a lot on the difference between a pass and an assist. This disparity is so critical in water polo. A player can make a great read, but if her pass is off by just a couple of inches, it can be the difference between an attempt and a goal. The range of error that our sport allows is annoyingly low, especially when it comes to passing.

Precision is key, as is attention to detail. Our efforts to improve in these areas were on display in our recent games, especially in Davis. We had 10 different goal scorers, five of whom had hat tricks, to bring us to an extremely high team total of 23 goals. A spectator would think from this high number that the game should have inherently been a blowout, but Davis is a well coached and hard opponent that we often have close games with. What it came down to was our passing precision and teamwork.

We were working so well with one another and adjusting to each person’s tendencies by making passes just how our teammates like them. It is that attention to detail that is going to most important forward.

We match up against UCLA this weekend — a team we have faced many times this season and one that always keeps us on our toes and capitalizes on our mistakes. UCLA is disciplined and very well coached. This team features many amazing players that have the played the game for a very long time and it always seems to be a close game with them.

It is always fun to play them and we are looking forward to having our abilities tested to see what we can do with them. We are still working hard everyday, and hopefully that will pay off in the water against the Bruins.

Contact Jamie Neushul at jneushul ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Jamie Neushul works on water polo coverage for The Daily. She is on the women's water polo team in her sophomore year here at Stanford. She is a double major in Communication and English and aspires to pursue a career in journalism or possibly go to law school. She is from Santa Barbara, California and loves to go to the beach and surf.

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