Perched high above the pool, Hawaii head coach Maureen Cole had a clear view of the Rainbow Wahine water polo team’s resilience in a win over Indiana on Saturday.
Given a red card late in UH’s controversial loss to No. 1 USC on Friday, Cole was restricted from the pool deck for the following match and observed the 11-5 Rainbow Wahine victory over the Hoosiers from the roof of the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex while assistant Katie Teets managed the game down below.
“It gave me a little perspective,” Cole said after the match. “I had a good view and the most successful I can be is if they don’t need me. … They have to communicate in the water … they’re prepared and it’s good when they don’t need me.”
After the 9-8 last-minute loss to USC, the No. 8 Rainbow Wahine (10-9) got back above .500 with a balanced performance against No. 15 Indiana. Eight UH players scored with sophomore Irene Gonzalez leading the ’Bows with three goals and junior Chloe Barr adding two and goalie Ymane Hage made seven saves.
“I do think the reason we’re so effective offensively is because we have so many different weapons,” Cole said. “We’re good on the inside, we’re good on the outside, our passing’s good, we’ve got a great lefty, so it’s hard to defend us. Whoever’s shot it is at the end of the day, we just want to play good water polo and that’s what we’ve been working all year and it’s starting to click.”
Perhaps even more telling for Cole was the team’s response after UH’s third loss to USC this season.
The Trojans won the first two meetings 13-8 and 12-5 but trailed early in UH’s home opener. The Wahine led 7-6 going into the fourth quarter and USC scored the first two goals of the period to take the lead. UH sophomore Carla Abellan’s lob cleared the reach of USC goalie Amanda Longan to tie the match at 8-8 with 1:23 left. The Trojans missed a shot with 50 seconds left but UH turned it over 5 seconds later.
With the shot clock winding down, USC was awarded a 5-meter penalty shot, drawing a vehement protest from Cole, who was shown the red card. Stephania Haralabidis buried the shot and the Trojans hung on for their 48th consecutive win.
After the match, Cole noted the lack of satisfaction among the players in taking the defending national champions to the wire.
“What I though was great (Saturday) night was the tears I saw and the belief,” Cole said. “I think we haven’t had that throughout the years, it’s kind of been building. They believe that they can play with the best team in the country and we had an opportunity to win that game.
“I was really proud of them and they way they did. … But we don’t want to be close this year, we want to win it and that’s the attitude they have. So it was good to see.”
UH will have nearly two weeks to train before resuming a five-game homestand on March 30 against UC Santa Barbara in UHs Big West home opener. The Wahine face No. 3 UCLA and No. 12 San Diego State the next two nights.