Women’s water polo makes way into championship game for first time in school history

Jannae Mehaffey

The women’s water polo team recently made history by placing second in their first ever trip to the CWPA DIII Championships. Their success at the tournaments qualifies them to compete at the USA National Water Polo Championships on May 7 against No. 1 ranked Pomona-Pitzer. 

This was also the first year Augustana had a women’s water polo team. First-year Charlotte Newport is grateful for the support her team received from the school this year since it was a brand new team. 

“As a first-year team, we have had so much support from the athletic department, and we have the best coaches who really believed in this team and the program,” Newport said. 

The team also finished off their regular season with two members making the CWPA-West All-Conference team. First-year Alyssa Fricker made all-conference first team and first-year Olivia Hillhouse made all-conference second team. Fricker said she was surprised when she found out she made the team. 

“I feel honored as I have worked hard during this season,” Fricker said. “I was shocked that I qualified for the DIII West all-conference team but am happy to see that my hard work pays off.”

With her high achievement of making all-conference second team, Hillhouse said she wants to continue to grow as a player and get better. She is also already looking forward to future seasons hoping they continue to qualify for nationals every year. 

“In the future, it would be awesome to qualify for nationals again. And for me, I just want to continue improving and make it an even better season than this year,” Hillhouse said. 

Fricker also wants the team to return to nationals again next year and believes since this is only the team’s first year that they have a lot of success ahead of them. 

“As a team we hope to win nationals in the coming years,” Fricker said. “Since we are a first-year team, we have a lot of time to build our team to be the best we can.”

All of these players acknowledge just how hard working their team is and that one of the reasons they were able to place second in the tournament was because of their work ethic. 

“We have trusted each other as teammates, and we’ve trusted our coaches to guide us in our first season ever,” Newport said. “We worked really hard during the season to be seeded high for conference championships because we knew we had a shot at being in the championship game.”

The team’s road to the championships wasn’t easy by any means, and they did struggle at points. Newport believes their ability to lean on each other and work together is what got them through. 

“We were really tested in the semifinals, but we relied on each other and did what we have been practicing all year to pull out the win,” Newport said. 

As most sports are, water polo can be a mental game. Sometimes the team with the best mindset is the team that is going to come out on top. 

“Our team went into the tournament with good mindsets and played to the best of our abilities,” Fricker said. “We all worked together, which is hard to do as a first-year team.”