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June 11, 2008 > National champions

National champions

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko

Cal State University East Bay splashed into the record books this year by winning their first ever national championship. Originally seeded third in the National tournament, the upstart group of women demonstrated outstanding poise and perseverance in winning the title. "We entered nationals ranked third. But, we felt that if we played together that we could win it," said Lisa Derossi-Cooper, CSUEB Water Polo Coach. The optimistic coach felt confident and did not mind the number three ranking. "I like being the underdog. It is better," stated the veteran coach.

The team came very close to winning their first team championship in 2005 but lost in a nail-biter in the national championship game with 4.2 second left. "This year we have a great group of girls from Northern and Southern California. They are all very humble, hard working, committed, and know how to listen."

A key reason for the CSUEB Pioneers National Championship was the play of Senior All-American goalie Ellie Wheiesman. "Ellie's growth over the last two years has been phenomenal. Without her play this season we would not have won the championship." Wheiesman led the nation in saves for Division III institutions with 356. She was ranked fourth in saves for all divisions of the NCAA.

Wheiesman, along with fellow seniors and honorable mention All-Americans Janet and Laure De Mances, will be missed as the university has plans to move its athletic program to Division II in the 2009-2010 school year. "I am not worried about the team moving up in divisions. It would be a good opportunity for the university and the team to obtain and retain the type of student-athlete it needs to be successful," said Derossi-Cooper.

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