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April 10, 2003 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-10

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 13A

Armstrong, Narsai key in noteworthy win

By Ellen McGarrity
Daily Sports Writer

The last time the Michigan water
polo team faced San Jose State, the
Spartans dominated with an 8-3 win.
But this weekend at the Arizona
State Desert Challenge, the Wolver-
ines managed to rearrange the score-
board, this time flipping the tallies in
their favor.
Michigan's 6-4 win over No. 9 San
Jose State was a huge accomplish-
ment, as it was the highest-ranked
team the Wolverines have ever
defeated.
"At the beginning of the year, I
told (the team), 'When we play (San
Jose State) again in Arizona, that's
how we measure how well we've
done this season,"' Michigan coach
Matt Anderson said.
But Anderson, who was an assis-
tant coach at San Jose State during
the 2000-01 season, knows this
game could easily have gone the
other way.
"I know how good of a team they
are," Anderson said. "(San Jose State
coach Lou Tully's) starters and his
best players are players I recruited,
so I am very aware of how they are

as players. I had an advantage, but he
had an advantage (also) because he
was once my teacher and mentor."
Anderson's insider knowledge
wasn't the only reason the Wolver-
ines came out on top. A little help
from goalie Betsey Armstrong and
driver Sheetal Narsai was what
secured the win.
"In this situation, we were running
a defense in which we were giving
San Jose State the shots - the shots
(we knew) Betsey would block,"
Anderson said.
Armstrong explained further that
Anderson had set up a zone defense
against the Spartans.
"San Jose State is a really strongly
dominated whole-set team (a team
whose center is the key player),"
Armstrong said.
"But they don't have the strongest
outside players, so we were allowing
them to take those shots."
Armstrong blocked 10 of the shots
attempted from the outside.
While Armstrong was blocking the
Spartans' shots, Narsai was working
the other end of the pool on offense.
Her three four-meter penalty shots
successfully slipped by the San Jose
State goalie and accounted for half

of the Wolverines' tallies.
"It seems like whenever there's a
big game, that's when Sheetal
appears on the offensive end,"
Anderson said. "The bigger the
game, the more goals she scores.
Look at what she did against Indi-
ana, Hartwick and (now) San Jose
State."
Narsai, who made four goals in
both the Indiana and Hartwick
games earlier in the season, has also
noticed that her game performance
seems to benefit when the stakes are
high.
"When we play really good teams,
I automatically step up," Narsai said.
"In regular games, I feel like our
team is already handling everything

else. Our offense is working smooth-
ly, so I just step back and play
defense."
The team has come a long way in
the two-and-half months since it last
played against San Jose State. Since
that game, injury and illness have
kept more than a few Wolverines out
of the water.
"We had everybody playing at full
force at the beginning of the season,"
Narsai said. "But we didn't have the
confidence - (this game) showed
how much we've improved."
That confidence that Narsai spoke
of is what the Wolverines need as
they head into the Southern Division
Championships next weekend in
Lewisburg, Pa.

SETH LOWER/Daily
Michigan goalie Betsey Armstrong made 10 saves in this weekend's game against
San Jose State. Armstrong has been steady in stopping the opposition this season.

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