Despite their 13-3 record and arguably the toughest schedule of any Hopkins sports team, Blue Jay water polo often goes overlooked around Homewood. But it’s largely no fault of their own: because the team plays in a shallow 25-yard pool (there is technically no standard pool-size for water polo), the Jays only have four home games during the 2012 season. In the last week, Hopkins hosted three of those four, racking up a 2-1 record against George Washington University, 19-11, Bucknell University, 14-13, and Princeton University, 6-9. For senior Ross Schofield, the homestand marked some of the last opportunities to compete at Hopkins, and he made them count. Schofield, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound utilityman, knocked home 19 goals in the three-game set, including back-to-back eight-goal games to set a school record for the most goals scored in a game. As a result, he won the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s Southern Division Player of the Week. We caught up with Ross to ask about the team’s terrific start.
N-L: You scored eight goals in two games this past week, tying your own school record. What does it mean to you to be in the Hopkins record books? RS: It means a lot to be in the school’s record books, but what was more important about those two games was that we won both of them. It’s great to be there, and I am very proud of my achievement, but the team comes first.
N-L: What was the key that led to your dominance against George Washington? And Bucknell? RS: What made it possible to score eight goals in both of those games was our team’s preparation for both of those games. The entire week we had been preparing for George Washington and Bucknell and strategizing how to beat them. I had the hot hand for both games and my teammates kept feeding me the ball, so I give them a lot of credit.
N-L: The team is off to one of the best starts in school history (13-3). What’s behind it? RS: The reason we’re off to such a great start is because we have such a great team and coaching staff. This is one of the best teams that Hopkins has ever had, and I am proud to be a part of it. [Head] Coach Ted [Bresnahan] as always is doing a great job getting us in shape and getting us ready for games, but we also have had the addition of a new assistant, Coach Ivan [Ivovic]. Having two coaches, we get more individual attention and everyone on the team is improving everyday.
N-L: You guys don’t play a ton of home games, yet you played a few this past week. What’s the best thing about having home-pool advantage for you? RS: My favorite games of my entire Hopkins career come at this pool. As you said, we only play a few home games a year, less than most teams, and we have to make the most of it. Whenever we have home games we hand out flyers, make Facebook events, and tell all of our friends. We want our pool to be the hardest place to play. Our pool is also different from most pools only being 25 yards and both ends shallow. Practicing in this pool everyday gives us a huge advantage when teams come to play us.
N-L: What game(s) on the schedule are you most looking forward to? Trip to Claremont, CA? October 10 at home vs. Navy? RS: We have two games/tournaments that we’re concentrating on now. We have an away game at George Washington next Wednesday (October 17th), and with a win, it will give us a huge boost in the Southern Division rankings. And the second tournament we are looking forwards to is the Claremont Convergence. This is a huge tournament for us because it is the only time of the year we get to play the top Division III schools on the West Coast. Because there is not a Division III tournament, it is very important to do well out there so we can possibly be at the top of [the Division III [rankings] at the end of the year.
N-L: What did you do this summer to prepare you for your senior season? RS: It was hard this summer to really get in shape for the season having an internship everyday, but whenever I had spare time I was in the pool swimming or playing water polo. Every year we have a pre-preseason, totally separate from Hopkins, where the captains get the team together and practice and bond. This is a great experience every time I do it because it makes us so close as team in and out of the pool.
N-L: What are some of your personal goals for the year? And the team’s? RS: The only personal goal that I have really is to be in the best shape I have ever been in. Doing this means, I can stay in the water for a lot of the game hopefully giving our team a better chance to win. The team’s goal is to go 4-0 out in California, which is probably the number one goal. But also at the end of the season, make it to the championship game of Southern’s and top four at Eastern’s.