THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran women's water polo team opens the 2019 season as the No. 2 team in the nation according to the Collegiate Water Polo Association. The Regals finished 21-9 a year ago and were second in conference.
After back-to-back years of going to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championships, and coming up just short, the Regals are looking to get over the hump and claim the title this year.
"We always strive and talk about being the best team that we can possibly be," said Head Coach Craig Rond. "Our program is loaded with very conscientious student-athletes that work hard in the classroom and in the pool."
Cal Lutheran returns three Collegiate Water Polo Association All-America honorees in Bailey Meyer, Victoria Rose Meek and Nikki Roed. Meyer and Meek were named to the First Team while Roed was Honorable Mention.
The team will be led by an experienced senior class. Nicole Guerriero, Avery Karich, Meyer, Mardell Ramirez, Roed and Megan Seeman look for one last shot at a conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"This year's seniors are all amazing young ladies," said Rond. "They are great leaders, have great attitudes, amazing work ethic and care a great deal about the team and program. It will be very hard to replace them individually and as a whole."
Meyer and Roed were also named First and Second Team All-SCIAC, respectively. Last year in goal, Meyer set the program record for saves with 302. She currently sits in third on the all-time list with 599. Roed, a utility player, is eighth in program history for goals with 112. All six have made significant contributions to the Regals.
"We have a lot of experience in our returners," said Rond. "Victoria and Bailey are sure to return to dominance after All-America seasons. Nikki has looked great this fall and early season. Mardell, Megan, Mackenzie, Christin and Nicole will all play key roles this season."
On top of the All-America nod, Meek was also a Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) All-District selection and a Second Team All-SCIAC honoree. She is ranked sixth and tied for ninth for drawn ejections in a season. For her career, she ranks seventh on the all-time with 116.
Hirn scored the fourth-most goals for the Regals in 2018 and had a shooting percentage of .408. Thomas was third on the team with 30 steals and led the team with seven field blocks a year ago.
The Regals brought in their biggest recruiting class in recent history and welcome nine freshmen. The newcomers include Bri Bulkeley, Allison Dickson, Kaitlin Gardhouse, Kaitlin Garrett, Kaitlin Moreno, Rachel Ray, Lexi Rond, Jamie Sanders and Susanna Zdolsek.
"We added an outstanding community college transfer in Jessica," said Rond. "Having my daughter, Lexi, on the team has really been such a delight. She is very talented and extremely hard working. Kaitlin Gard. is a tremendous talent that we are so thankful to be coaching at the collegiate level. We are also excited for Susanna and she has a tremendous future here."
Cal Lutheran opens the 2019 campaign this weekend at the 2019 Bruno Classic, which is hosted by Brown University. The Regals will play two games on Saturday and Sunday.
"We are just so excited to get to games," said Rond. "Our goal is quite simply to be the absolutely best team we can be in the water and on land. We want to control what we can control and that is playing and training like a champion each and every day."
Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director