Irish earn 2 weekend victories
Special to The Observer
Determined to improve upon last year's seventh place national ranking, the women's water polo team opened with two strong showings the past two weeks.
Two weeks ago, the Irish dropped their season opener to defending national champion Michigan State 11-4 in the Spartan Invitational. The Irish also dropped a close 8-6 decision to arch rival Midwest Conference champion Miami OH, but then rebounded to defeat Purdue 6-3, Ohio State 8-7, and Northwestern 7-1.
Returning team stars Lauren Kuzniar, Liz Parolin, and Meg Daday teamed with freshman standout Allison Gienko to support Captain Lisa Thomas in goal.
This weekend, the Irish traveled to Western Michigan for conference play. In the opener, Lisa Thomas continued to shine in goal, and understudy Angie Gaul contributed a fourth quarter shut out as the Irish clipped the Falcons 15-7. The trio of Kuzniar, Gienko and Parolin each scored a hat trick, while the tandem of Margo Klosterman and Sarah Todnem splashed home two goals apiece.
The second game saw the Irish rout the Miami B squad 13-1, as the bench emptied and many players garnered playing time. The Irish defeated Western Michigan 15-8 with Jackie Aragon scoring a pair of goals in the game. This set the stage for the tournament championship between two national powers with a history of heated and close competition.
In the finals, Miami emerged triumphant in an 11-10 overtime thriller that was deadlocked at 8-8 after regulation. Kuzniar's three goals kept the Irish close, and Gienko scored two goals to force overtime. In overtime, Parolin added a third goal to her pair in regulation, forcing sudden death, where the Red Hawks prevailed.
These two clubs will battle again in two weeks at Rolfs Aquatics in the Irish Invitational, Feb. 16-18.
A shorthanded Ski Club finished second in both women's events at Schuss Mountain this weekend.
Molly Munsterer took up the banner for the women, winning both the slalom and giant slalom. Top 15 performances by Alanna Lungren, Jennifer Caswell coupled with two great runs by senior Ingrid Anderson raised the team to a second place Slalom finish, behind Michigan State.
The Spartans captured first in the giant slalom as well, despite all ten Irish women finishing both runs. Lungren, Caswell, and Ellen Block all posted top 15 finishes to join Munsterer in the scoring.
Mike Ryan continued to improve each week, placing third in the slalom and ninth in the giant slalom. Seniors Ryan Boger and Nick Bauter finished both reruns each day and solid performances by Kevin Kennedy, Suthee Wiri and Keiran Norton contributed to the strongest team showing of the season.
The Irish will return to Schuss Mountain next week to participate in the Divisional Championships.
Michigan and Michigan State will provide the stiffest competition as the Irish women set out to defend their title.
The Irish gymnastics club, a national power for the past several years, returned to the mats this weekend at the Miami Cup in Oxford, OH.
Nationally ranked among the top five the past three years, including one national title, the men's team highlights included Pete Asmuth's fifth in the floor exercises, with a score of 8.3.
Leading the men on this day however was Mickey McGarry, who captured first in the vault (8.7), second in the rings (7.1), third in the parallel bars (6.6), fifth in the high bar (5.8), and third All-Around (41.8).
The men finished third in a strong field, with a team score of 111.7.
The women had an equally impressive opening, as they also finished third with a team score of 125.9. Erin Henry's 8.75 placed second in the vault for the Irish. The day belonged, however, to Emily Smith who earned fist place in the All-Around.
Strong performances on the vault (8.55), uneven bars (8.4), and balance beam (8.55) claimed the individual title for Smith.
A top ten team each of the past three years, including a fifth place national ranking last year, the women also finished third in a very strong field at Miami.
The teams will next compete in two weeks at the Purdue Invitational.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, February 6, 2001