EastBay Today

Posted June 9, 2017

Water Polo Season Ends on High

Cal State East Bay coach, athletes earn top recognitions

Coach of the Year Lisa Cooper (right) with starting goalie and First Team All-American Nikki Vaughan, who Cooper calls "one of the best goalies in the country."
COurtesy of Department of Athletics

The Cal State East Bay women's water polo team is finishing the 2017 season on a high note — and ramping up for bigger wins in the coming years. Coach Lisa Cooper was recently named Coach of the Year by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches, and two players, Auriel Bill and Nikki Vaughan, received ACWPC All-American honors. Cooper said she credits the entire coaching staff for the team's success, including new assistant coaches Nate Varosh and Tori Dettloff, and Professor Cal Caplan.

"I am honored to be named D2 coach of the year," she said. "Nate and Tori were great additions for our program this year and Cal just completed his 11th year coaching the goalies. We are looking forward to next year and are working toward bringing home a Western Water Polo Association conference championship to East Bay."

With the recognitions, Cal State East Bay joins UC San Diego, California Baptist and Azusa Pacific as one of only four universities to have multiple athletes named to All-America teams this year.

The ACWPC recipients are nominated and determined each year by head coaches for each water polo program in the National Collegiate AA Division II. This is Cooper’s second coach of the year award. Her first was in 2010.

This spring, she led the Pioneers to an overall record season of 13-13. In addition, the team appeared in the ACWPC national top-25 rankings several times over the season, including a third place finish at the 2017 WWPA championships.

Bill, a freshman, is one of seven Division II student-athletes recognized on the First Team, and was also named WWPA Newcomer of the Year. Earlier in the season, she was selected twice as the WWPA Player of the Week and finished third among all WWPA players with a total of 79 season points.

"I am extremely proud of having players voted to the All-America teams," Cooper said. "There are only seven first-team selections, and to have Auri make it as a freshman is a testament to her ability and work ethic. She has a long career ahead of her and this is only the beginning."

Vaughan, who transferred to Cal State East Bay from Fullerton College two seasons ago, was the Pioneers’ starting goalkeeper this year and led the WWPA in save percentage, ranking second in saves per game and third in goal. In addition, she was recognized as a Second Team All Tournament athlete after two “outstanding” performances in the goal box at the WWPA championships.

"To be named at the goalie position is extremely difficult, as there are only two goalies named All-American,” Cooper said. "So Nikki making second team really shows she is one of the best goalies in the country. Her defensive leadership this year was outstanding and it was great to see her growth over the past two years."