ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — The Augustana Vikings women’s water polo team made history in their first-ever season as a varsity program in 2022, not only placing second at the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III Championship, but also earning a top-four standing at the USA Water Polo Division III National Tournament.
After dropping their season opener to Division II opponent McKendree University, the Vikings earned their first win in program history at the Macalester College Invitational in February, defeating No. 9 ranked Occidental College by a score of 11-7. Augie entered the season receiving votes in the Division III National Top 10 Poll, and the win over a top ten team helped catapult them into the top 10 in ensuing weeks. Augie remained in the national poll’s top ten for the remainder of the season, reaching as high as No. 8.
Following an eight-game span that saw five games against top ten foes and two versus National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I opponents, the Vikings returned home for their first-ever game inside the Anne Greve Lund Natatorium, facing the Bearcats of McKendree for the second time. Despite an 11-point loss the first time around, Augie hung with McKendree, setting up a chance late to push the game into overtime. Augustana came up short, losing by a score of 10-9, but trimmed off ten points from the Bearcats the first time around.
The second half of the season saw mostly conference games for the Vikings, beginning with a trip to Wittenberg University for a CWPA Division III-West Region event. Here, the Vikings went 2-1, defeating both Macalester and Wittenberg. Augie headed back to Rock Island for another home contest, defeating Carthage College, 16-5, before turning around and taking a trip to Carthage in Kenosha, Wisc., the following weekend for another CWPA regional event. Augustana once again posted a positive record, this time finishing with a 3-1 mark in their final regular season outing.
Augustana earned the No. 3 seed in the CWPA Division III Championship at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., by finishing as the regular season Western Region runner-up. The Vikings cruised past No. 6 seed Penn State Behrend in the opening round to send them into the semifinals against Wittenberg. A come-from-behind 15-13 victory propelled the Vikings to the championship game and despite falling to No. 5-ranked Austin College in the title match, automatically clinched a berth in the inaugural USA Water Polo Division III Championship in Claremont, Calif., at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.
As the second place team in the CWPA, the Vikings squared off with the No. 1 team in both the SCIAC and the nation in the national semifinals. Augie was defeated by Pomona-Pitzer, 21-6, placing in the Vikings in the third-place game. The Vikings fell to Austin by a final score of 12-9 to garner Fourth Place. Pomona-Pitzer was crowned the national champion after defeating Whittier College by an 8-6 final score.
On an individual level, the Vikings boasted multiple accolades throughout the entire season. Goalkeeper Lizzie Pelzman was named to the USA Water Polo Division III Championship All-Tournament team following her efforts in the two games at the national championships. A month later, Alyssa Fricker and Olivia Hillhouse were both named Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-American selections. Fricker and Hillhouse also earned CWPA Division II-West All-Conference honors, with Fricker landing First Team recognition and Hillhouse a Second Team nod.
Fricker also tallied eight weekly honors from the CWPA, including both Rookie of the Week and Player of the Week awards. Annie Opal Dickson, Pelzman and Hilhouse also secured Player of the Week recognition throughout the year.
Leading the Vikings in goals this season with 94 was Fricker, followed by Hillhouse’s 33 and Ocean Akau‘s 29. Victoria Guest had 47 assists to lead Augie and as a team the Vikings posted a plus-57 margin over their opponents this season in the assists category. Pelzman and Lanie DaSilva split time in goal in 2022, with Pelzman tallying 45 saves to DaSilva’s 44.
Augustana concluded the season with a 9-14 record, but garnered an 8-4 mark against CWPA teams. The team finished 1-1 at home and 9-9 against Division III opponents. In addition, the Vikings posted marks of 0-2 versus Division I schools, 0-2 against Division II schools and 0-1 versus National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) opponents.
Release courtesy Augustana College Athletics Communications