Matador Water Polo Players Honored At Team Banquet

May 23, 2008

Northridge, Calif. - This was indeed a very productive season for Cal State Northridge water polo in 2008.

The Matadors ended the year with a #13 national ranking. That was impressive considering that Cal State Northridge played all the top teams in the nation. The list of 2008 opponents included top-ranked UCLA which recently captured the NCAA title for a fourth straight season, #2 USC, #3 Stanford, #4 Hawai'i, #5 San Diego State, #6 California, #7 San Jose State, #8 UC Davis, #9 Arizona State, #10 Michigan, #11 Loyola Marymount, #12 UC Irvine, #15 Long Beach State, #16 UC San Diego, #18 Santa Clara, and #19 UC Santa Barbara.

Recently, Cal State Northridge honored the team with its annual banquet at the Porter Valley Ranch Golf Club where several student-athletes were honored for the success in the pool.

Chelsea Curran enjoyed a breakout season in 2008 and for her efforts was named MVP Offensive Player of the Year. Curran, a sophomore, scored a career-high 36 goals, third-best on the Matadors. In five games, Curran scored three or more goals, including a career-high five goals and the game winner against Indiana.

"Chelsea was the glue that held the offense together," said Matador head coach Molly Barnes. "When she was not in the game due to foul trouble or injuries, to say we missed her would be an understatement. We simply were not the same team without her in the water."

Curran broke her own single season school record in kickouts drawn with 71 in 2008. The previous school record by Curran was 54 set last year.

MVP Defensive honors went to senior Dayna Van Gorder. Van Gorder finished the season with 32 goals, 22 assists, 36 steals and 42 kickouts drawn. Van Gorder's strengths included her defense.

"Just like last year, Dayna always had the job of defending our opponents' best 2-meter player," said Barnes. "Dayna constantly worked at getting that player into foul trouble which she did quite often. In fact, she had the second most kickouts drawn on the team this year. She often played the entire game (32 minutes) only resting to spend 20 seconds in the ejection box."

Sydney Sonoda captured Rookie of the Year honors. Sonoda, a freshman, finished the season with eleven goals and 30 kickouts drawn.

"Sydney had a tremendous freshman season," said Barnes. "She had to give us minutes at center often taking a beating from very experienced two-meter defenders. She became very effective at drawing ejections and 5-meters and continued to improve as the season wore on. She gave us her biggest game when we needed it the most at the MPSF tournament against ASU (scored two goals).

Renee Gargiulo enjoyed a highly successful sophomore campaign, and thus gained Most Improved Player honors. Gargiulo scored 21 goals, dished out 21 assists, collected 46 steals and 19 kickouts drawn. But defense was Gargiulo's specialty. Gargiulo started the entire season, and continued to improve game-by-game, according to the Matador coaching staff.

"Towards the middle of the season, we started giving her defensive match-ups which she took very personally," said Barnes. "She almost always found herself guarding the other teams best pure attacker/shooter and her defensive prowess kept us in many a game."

Kirra Kylander, a sophomore, was given the Coaches "Work Ethic" Award. Kylander tallied 19 goals in 2008, sixth-best on the team. Her 37 steals was second-best. Kylander scored a season-high two goals in games against Cal State Bakersfield, Fresno Pacific, UC Davis, Bucknell and UC Irvine. Her 73 assists in two seasons at CSUN is seventh-best in school history.

The 2008 Matador Award went to two-time All-American and senior Allison Brookes. The Matador Award is the "ultimate utility" award to honor a graduating senior who has been with the Matador program for four years and has adapted to a new role on the team each year.

Brookes was the team's leading scorer in 2008 with 49 goals that earned her Honorable Mention All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) honors for a second straight season. Her 49 goals was tenth-best for a single season in school history, and the third time in four seasons that she led the team in scoring.

Brookes scored at least one goal in 25 of the 32 games, and two or more goals in 14 games. Against Michigan and California, Brookes tallied a season-high four goals.

Brookes ended her four-year CSUN career with a school record 222 goals. Brookes also third all-time in assists (106) and sixth in career steals (168).

"You could say that Allison sacrificed her own game each year for the betterment of the team," said Barnes. "And this year, every time the team wasn't clicking, we tried to use her in a different way. She did what was needed to help this team win and for that she is the `Ultimate Utility Player."

Jessica Coy earned the Red Cape Award for 2008. Coy, a junior, led the team in assists for the second straight season with 57. Coy currently ranks second all-time in school history with 174 assists, only ten short of the school record held by Lynzy Klein (20024-06).

Coy mastered her role as a passer last year and took her game to another level this year with multiple multi-goal performances. In five games, Coy scored three or more goals including the school's first victory ever over Long Beach at the MPSF Tournament.

"Not only has Jessica become our team's best passer but she was counted on to take the majority of the five-meter shots this year," said Barnes. "She's a great decision maker and a leader in the water."

Barnes also acknowledged the contributions of the senior class; Allison Brookes, Dayna Van Gorder and Brianna Wilson.

"These are three very special seniors that we're going to miss," said Barnes. "We are very proud of this class because they are also graduating in four years."

Brookes and Van Gorder each graduated with a degree in Sociology, while Wilson earned her degree in Kinesiology.