Nov. 21, 2012
UC Davis women's water polo signed four prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the November signing period, head coach Jamey Wright announced. Alphabetically, the recruiting class comprises Lauren Emge of San Anselmo, Hannah Harvey of Clovis, Sammy Preston of Huntington Beach and Carla Tocchini of Daly City.
All four prospects are high school seniors who are expected to enroll at UC Davis for the 2013 fall quarter.
"One some level you're targeting specific needs, and another you're just trying to get a good group that can cover a lot of different facets of the game. I think we did a really good job with this group," said Wright. "We got some speed and counterattacking, we have some good presence in front of the goal and we have some good perimeter shooting. In total, it's a solid group and I'm pretty excited about it."
(Center, San Anselmo, Calif./Sir Francis Drake HS)
Emge, a 5-foot-9 center from Sir Francis Drake High, captured All-Marin County Athletic League honors as a junior and senior after picking up honorable mention as a sophomore. She added a league MVP nod this fall. Emge has helped the Pirates claim back-to-back MCAL titles and four straight North Coast Section playoff berths. As a senior, she scored 116 goals and drew 76 exclusions in leading Drake to a 23-6 record and the CIF-NCS semifinals. On the age-group scene, Emge plays and swims for Sleepy Hollow Aquatics. She served as team captain and was selected to the Pacific Zone Senior All-Star squad last summer.
"Lauren came late to water polo in that she started playing when she got to high school. She was playing basketball at the same time," said Wright. "When she played Campolindo, which ended up being the No. 1 team in Northern California, they felt they had to double-team her the second time around because she scored six or seven goals against them the first time. One-on-one, she's very hard to guard. She has a lot of low-post moves from being a basketball player. She's not real big but she's tough and strong. And the other thing I like about her is that she shoots the ball well from the outside."
(Utility, Clovis, Calif./Clovis HS)
Harvey stars in both water polo and swimming at Clovis High School. On the water polo course, she captured NISCA All-America second-team honors as a junior, an award that came by virtue of her Central Section MVP nod. She also was selected as Tri-River Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season, having scored 87 goals with 87 steals and 76 drawn exclusions. As a swimmer, Harvey is the reigning CIF-CS champion in the 200 freestyle (1:56.22) and looks to claim section crowns in both the 100 and 200 this winter.
"Hannah Harvey is an extremely fast counterattacker," Wright said. "She's long and tall, standing 5-10. Hannah has that same athletic component that Carmen Eggert has, and might be even a little bit faster. What I like about her besides her counterattack offense is her help defense. In water polo, good athletic players can do something we call `getting over your hips,' meaning you're pointed in one direction then you can quickly point yourself in the opposite direction to help. It's an important skill. She can get in lanes quickly and help in the front-court defense. [Stanford head coach] John Tanner saw Lindsay Kiyama play at the 2008 NCAAs and called it `functional speed.' I like that term: it's not just fast, it's functionally fast. And that's the way Hannah plays. We're really happy to get her. She committed early and it was a good commitment for us."
(Attacker, Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach HS)
Preston is the lone Southern Californian of the 2012 fall class, hailing from Huntington Beach High School and Huntington Beach WPC. On the varsity scene, she is a two-year team captain who earned first-team All-Sunset League as a sophomore and junior after garnering an All-Seaview League honorable mention as a freshman. Preston added a third-team All-Southern Section Div. I nod last spring as well. In the summer, she plays for the HB Water Polo club whose Blue squad finished second at the 2012 Junior Olympics, losing a one-goal game to Santa Barbara WPC in the gold-medal game.
"Sammy is a good counterattacker and outside shooter who plays much bigger than she is," said Wright. "She plays for a coach who runs the same kind of program as ours - her counterattack is very similar to ours - so I expect an easier transition for Sammy. We always hope to get people who can come in and contribute early.
(Center, Daly City, Calif./St. Ignatius Prep)
Tocchini has earned four All-West Catholic Athletic League and three All-Central Coast Section awards in her four-year varsity career at St. Ignatius High. She has posted goals totals of 35, 56, 77 and 87 from her freshman through her senior years, setting the program's career scoring record. Tocchini has also helped the Wildcats to a pair of CIF-CCS title games. She plays her club ball for Stanford WPC, earning Junior Olympics All-America honors and competing with the ODP since 2009. Tocchini played for the Women's Youth National Team in 2010 and was selected for the National Training & Selection Camps for three straight years.
"Carla is an outstanding center. I rank her as the top center in Northern California - and really one of the top centers in all of California - in her class," Wright said. "Next year, Hannah Curran is a senior, and Elise Fullerton and Allyson Hansen are juniors. Carla will come in as a freshman and will be able to learn. But when it comes to water polo experience, Carla has been playing center for a long time. St. Ignatius had another player who could set so they would put her out on the perimeter, where she was effective at getting the ball in, driving in, shooting from the outside; then posting up late in the shot clock. Then she could do some damage from two meters. So she has spent a good year being much more than being a typical center, and I think that's how we would use her with the two juniors and a senior. She's a solid player and I'm happy to have her."
UC Davis finished 18-13 and placed second at the Big West Conference Championship last spring. The Aggies ranked among the national top 10 on two occasions during the 2012 season.