The Student Recreational Sports Center is normally a quiet place on a weekend night in Bloomington. Most students have long left the gym, and are getting ready to hit up their favorite establishments on Kirkwood. Inside the SRSC last weekend, however, was an energetic crowd of fans, friends, and family, who gathered to watch the annual IU women’s water polo “Fluid Four” tournament at the Councilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center. The Hoosiers went undefeated in the tournament, winning 14-11 against Cal Baptist on Friday, and capping off the weekend with a 12-5 victory against Michigan on Saturday.
The Hoosiers (11-2) , who are now ranked 14th in the nation, faced No. 19 Cal Baptist in the tournament opener last Friday. The game, which happened to be Senior Day for the Hoosiers, appropriately included a milestone for one senior. Shea Fournier scored her 247th goal at IU, making her the new all-time leading goal scorer for the Hoosiers. Fournier finished the game with four goals, while sophomore Candyce Schroeder recorded a hat trick.
The next evening, IU closed out the Fluid Four by facing Big Ten foe Michigan in its “red-out” game. The Wolverines were looking for revenge after a 10-5 Hoosier victory in Ann Arbor last month, but were unable to find it, as the Hoosiers won easily, 12-5. The game was never a contest, as the Hoosiers raced out to an 8-1 halftime lead. Sophomore goaltender Jessica Gaudreault tied a personal record with 13 saves, while junior Rebecca Gerrity led the Hoosiers with three goals.
For many Hoosier fans, water polo may come as somewhat of a mystery. No native Hoosier is on the roster, and most of the athletes hail from California or Canada. Michigan is the only other B1G school to even field a varsity women’s water polo team, and they are 3-10 on the season. The only school east of the Mississippi ranked higher than IU is Princeton, who currently sits at No. 9 in the polls. Despite water polo being an anomaly for this region of the country, head coach Barry King’s team has done quite well for itself at a school where outdoor swimming pools only get used during the first and last two weeks of the school year.
In this basketball-loving state, Hoosier fans can find much to enjoy in the game. Like the hardcourt game that gets played over in Assembly Hall, water polo is a fast-paced sport, with set plays and positions, and the ultimate goal of getting a ball in a net. Also like basketball, water polo uses a shot clock, and whoever has possession has 35 seconds to score a goal, unless they lose control of the ball. Furthermore, the team’s robes feature the traditional cream and crimson IU candy stripes. As a result, the sport does not have much in common with polo, and more resembles a cross of basketball and soccer, but played in a pool.
Unfortunately, the Hoosiers have no more home matches in Bloomington for the rest of the season. Their next match is not for almost a month, when they travel to UC-Davis at the start of IU’s Spring Break on March 16. The water polo season is a long one, as the Hoosiers’ conference, the College Water Polo Association (CWPA), doesn’t hold its championships until late April (Little 5 weekend to be exact), and the NCAA tournament takes place in early May (coinciding with IU graduation weekend). Nevertheless, if IU’s baseball team could beat teams from warmer climates last season and get the B1G’s first College World Series berth in 30 years, then there’s no reason this water polo team can’t do something similar, so we’ll be keeping an eye out on them as the season progresses.
Note from the author: Hi, my name's Ben, and I'm a new writer here at TCQ. Unlike what my username suggests, I actually am not in DC at the moment, but instead live in Bloomington, so I'm working on getting that changed.