The 15th-ranked UC
Q-UCSD has not won the WWPA Championship since the inaugural tournament in 2000. Is that something the team talks about?
LaROCHELLE—Not really. It’s something we’re all aware of but our goal every year is to win this tournament. We’re ready to play and it should be very competitive but we don’t really dwell on that aspect.
Q-You’re seeded fourth. How does the team feel about being in that position?
LaROCHELLE—I think we’re all feeling pretty determined after being upset twice (by UC Davis and
This is the first year we’ve been ranked this low going into the Championship but we’re not discouraged about it. You’ve got to beat those teams if you want to finish first so the order doesn’t really matter.
Q-What would make this a successful tournament from your perspective?
LaROCHELLE—Obviously, we want to come out with a win but I think we’ll all be satisfied if we each go out and leave it all in the pool. We’ve worked hard as a team to get where we are and we have the tools to win—it’s a matter of coming out and performing. Every game between the top four teams has come down to the last seconds so we’ve got to be ready to compete.
Q-How would you evaluate UCSD’s chances?
LaROCHELLE—I would say we have a very good chance to win this thing. As I said, the top four are very comparable and almost all of the games between us have been decided by one goal. None have been blow outs like there have been in past years.
It’s been great to be part of this team and I think we’ve really stepped up this year against higher-ranked teams. I expect that we’ll do it again in the next few days.
Q-How would you describe the three top-seeded teams?
LaROCHELLE—Loyola Marymount (No. 1 seed) has dominated the conference the last several years. They have a lot of quality players and are a big, physical, aggressive team.
UC Davis (No. 2) has a mix of strong players and scrappy, versatile players. They play with a lot of emotion. I think our two teams match up very well.
I don’t think
Q-Does playing the Championship in your own pool help?
LaROCHELLE—Definitely. We’ll have home court advantage so-to-speak. We’re used to playing and practicing in our beautiful new facility and hopefully, having a home crowd will be to our benefit.
Q-You’re a senior. How does it feel to know that this will be your last home weekend and could be the final weekend of your collegiate water polo career?
LaROCHELLE—It’s a fantastic opportunity. There’s no better way to end your career than having the conference championship weekend in your home pool.
After being part of it at other sites, I think we’ll have a little extra emotion. To come away with a win would be a fairy tale ending.