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Sports / Recreation

Rams prepare for battle in WWPA

January 23, 2009

Change is the key word for the 2009 Colorado State water polo team.

Emily ChambersTraining routine change

On the Rams' schedule, two of the tournaments in which Colorado State regularly attended will be replaced with some new locales.

As a result, the Rams have altered their training routine. Head Coach John Mattos and assistant Mike Moody decided to use the majority of the athletes' fall semester as a gradual progression toward their ultimate preparation for WWPA championships.

"We spent all of September and October getting smart and strong, but staying mostly dry, before we began getting wet for real on Nov. 3," said Mattos. CSU's November also included an exhibition tournament in Aurora, Colo. After adapting to all those changes, the Rams now set sail on a new voyage.

Tournament this weekend

The Rams get only three days of spring classes, which began Jan. 20, before departing for the Michigan Kickoff Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 2008, CSU was the only team at the tournament not ranked in the nation's Top 20.

Two weeks later, CSU plays host to Cal Berkeley, the University of Pacific and either Marist or a team to be determined at the Rams' second annual CSU Invitational, sponsored by the Marriott Hotel in Fort Collins. The Rams will play at least five games.

Then, on Feb. 13, CSU travels to Bakersfield, Calif., for its first appearance at the Cal State Bakersfield Tournament.

"We should be playing a handful of WWPA teams," Mattos said, "so hopefully we'll be up to the challenge and enhance our seeding potential for the WWPA championships in late April."

The Rams are back on the road again Feb. 21 as they travel to another new tournament, this time hosted by perennial WWPA rival Sonoma State. The goal there, Mattos said, is to capitalize on momentum the team hopes to build entering the tournament.

Spring Break

Then the team heads out on the ultimate Spring Break trip, two tournaments sandwiched around a mid-season training camp, all in California. The squad first makes its annual sojourn to Los Angeles, Calif., and the Loyola Marymount Tournament, where the Rams expect to be put to the test by more Top 20 opponents. CSU then stays at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., for four days of uninterrupted training combined with fun in the sun. Finally, the Rams close the week with yet another new tournament, this one hosted by Cal Baptist.

"We'll try to get some victories under our belt before returning home to Fort Collins," Mattos said. "Then we'll catch our breath for another few weeks before we head to San Jose."

There, the Rams get to participate in Santa Clara's first tournament in its new pool, something coaches consider a great opportunity to solidify CSU's final seeding at the conference championships.

In-state rival

On April 11, the Rams will tune up for their most important tournament of the year -- the conference championships -- with a tilt against Colorado College, either at EPIC in Fort Collins or in Colorado Springs. At that point, CSU should have a good idea of its first opponent in the championships, and can use the CC contest to game plan for that upcoming WWPA opponent.

The final showdown begins April 24, when the Rams return to San Jose, Calif., for the annual WWPA championships. Santa Clara hosts this year's competition in its brand-new facility.

"This will be our final chance to prove that CSU Women's Water Polo has truly arrived on the NCAA Division I scene," Mattos said. "Our season-long goal of breaking into the top six teams within the WWPA may soon be realized."

"It'll take an entire season and total team effort," Mattos said, "but with all the changes we have in place, we're going to make a run for it from day one."

Contact: Zak Gilbert
Phone: (970) 491-5067