LA JOLLA, Calif. -
UC San Diego women's water polo head coach Brad Kreutzkamp
has announced the largest early signing period class in school history with five future Tritons signing National Letters of Intent to join UCSD for the 2013 season.
Julia Kirkland, Emma Sasson, Karen Henry, Alexis Wieseler and Laurel Kistler will join the Tritons as freshmen for the 2012-13 school year.
"When I first came on board, I really felt we were falling behind in the recruiting battle with the top athletes using the early signing period to choose their perspective schools," said Kreutzkamp, now in his third season at the helm. "So we made a concentrated effort to go head to head with some of the top programs in the nation to sign our own class to an early NLI."
Coming off a Western Water Polo Association championship and the program's first appearance at the NCAA National Championship in 2011, the Tritons have secured a handful of California's top recruits.
"I cannot be more proud of this current class," said Kreutzkamp. "We are certainly trying to piggy back on our recent success and this class was very excited to join us as we continue to challenge for our conference championship."
Julia Kirkland scored a school-record 103 goals last season for Santiago High School in Corona, Calif. She added 52 assists, 37 steals and 38 drawn ejections in the process. In 2010, Kirkland had a team-high three goals in the Division II section final. A player for the Xtreme Water Polo Club and the Youth National Team, Kirkland is also a two-time Academic All-American, a member of the National Honor Society, and is in her 12th year of Girl Scouts. She received the Top Scorer award at the USA Water Polo Top 40 Tournament.
"Kirkland will bring so much intensity and fire to both our practices and games. She plays to win every second and simply puts the ball in the cage," said Kreutzkamp. "Playing with the Youth National Team has given her a ton of experience and we are excited to watch her flourish when she suits up to be a Triton."
Emma Sasson, who hails from Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, will provide another scoring option for the Tritons. A two-time All-Palomar League selection, she has led the Broncos in goals, assists and steals over the past two seasons. She earned a silver medal at the 2010 Junior Olympics as a member of the San Diego Shores Water Polo Club and was named to the Union-Tribune All-Academic Team as a junior.
"Sasson has a vast amount of potential and we are eager to watch her transition into the collegiate arena of water polo," said Kreutzkamp.
Karen Henry will come to La Jolla from El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif. A four-year varsity letterwinner, she was named an Academic All-American in 2010 and 2011. Henry competes for SET Water Polo Club where she was named to the WPC Top 40 Team in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Henry led the under-18 team to a fifth place finish at the Junior Olympics. She was an All-CIF Third Team and All-South Coast League First Team honoree last season.
"Henry has great speed and knowledge of the game, especially from the defensive side of our sport," said Kreutzkamp.
Alexis Wieseler is a six-foot two-meter defender who will bring a physical presence to UCSD's defensive unit. A four-year starter for Redlands East Valley High School, she was named All-CIF and All-Citrus Belt League in 2010-11. She competes for Xtreme Water Polo Club and was a UCS Water Polo Academic All-American for the 2009-10 school year.
"Wieseler will join our squad and quickly help us defeat other teams with her defensive skills," said Kreutzkamp. "Her size and strength will be greatly appreciated and we plan to develop her into a great offensive threat as well."
Laura Kistler hails from Goleta, Calif., where she won the CIF Division I title with Dos Pueblos High School in 2009, 2010 and 2011. She also won the under-16 Junior Olympic Championship as a member of the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club in 2010.
"Kistler has played her whole career with some of the greatest high school players in the nation. Often seen as a role player, she has had the advantage to learn and play with these elite athletes," said Kreutzkamp. "We hope that we can now give her an opportunity to shine on her own. We are excited to watch her flourish in her senior year of high school and bring to San Diego a wealth of knowledge."
This year's Triton squad opens the season at Colorado State on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. With 14 returners from last season's team that took a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championship, the Tritons are aiming for their first back-to-back Western Water Polo Association titles school history.
UCSD's first home contest in 2012 is on Friday, February 10 against Marist. First sprint is at 6:00 p.m. at Canyonview Pool.