Faulkner: 'Eaters are no tourists


March 26, 2014|By Barry Faulkner
  • Jessy Cardey, a redshirt senior, was Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2012 and 2011 and earned second-team All-American honors as a junior in 2012.
Jessy Cardey, a redshirt senior, was Big West Conference… (Courtesy of UCI…)

Spring break in Hawaii is an experience most students would covet, but for the members of the UC Irvine women's water polo team, the five-day excursion into paradise this week is mostly about business.

The No. 6-ranked Anteaters open Big West Conference play on Friday against No. 9-ranked Hawaii, trying to avenge two overtime losses last season to the Rainbow Wahine. One of those losses (the Anteaters also earned a one-goal win over Hawaii last season when all three matches were played at UCI), came in the final of the Big West tournament, which denied UCI a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Anteaters (16-6) are benefiting this season from the return of standouts Jessy Cardey, Danielle Warde and Annika Bergesen, all of whom redshirted last season to allow a class of nine freshmen to, well, dip more than their toes into the pool.

"I just felt that it was a good opportunity to get our freshmen a bit of experience and, academically, the girls who sat out knew they had to get some extra school anyway, so it worked out for them as well," said Coach Dan Klatt, a former All-American player at UCI and a 2004 Olympian who is also an assistant coach for the women's U.S. national team that he helped win gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.


Cardey, a redshirt senior, was Big West Player of the Year in 2012 and 2011 and earned second-team All-American honors as a junior in 2012. She has 34 goals this season, ranking third on the team behind sophomore McKenna Mitchell (40) and Warde (38).

Warde, a redshirt junior, was second-team All-American in 2012, when the Anteaters won their fourth straight Big West tournament title and repeated as regular-season conference champions. Like Cardey, she was named to the U.S. national team roster last summer.

Bergesen, a redshirt senior, has 15 goals this season, adding to a veteran group that includes senior Hannah Croghan and junior goalie Jillian Yocum, who were both first-team All-Big West in 2013. Croghan led the 'Eaters last season with 42 goals and 49 steals and her 26 assists ranked second on the squad. Croghan has 31 goals this season.

Senior Hillary Estrada was second-team all-conference last season, when Mitchell and Gabby Pierandozzi, both then freshmen, received honorable mention in all-conference voting.

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