Five Questions for Matt Warshaw, CSUN Head Women’s Water Polo Coach

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Matt Warshaw, California State University at Northridge head women's coach. Photo Courtesy: CSUN Athletics

Part of The Big West Conference, in years past, the Matadors of California State University at Northridge (CSUN) have enjoyed spectacular success, including advancing to their conference tournament final in 2010 and 2014—under current Michigan women’s coach, Marcelo Leonardi—and having Madeleine Sanchez, The Big West’s all-time leading scorer (229 goals), suit up in CSUN’s red and black from 2015 until graduating last spring.

csunNow it’s up to Head Coach Matt Warshaw, who arrived in 2015 as an assistant to Marty Matthies, to continue what has been a consistent culture of success in Northridge. In his first two years leading CSUN, Warshaw—who played four years at Cal Baptist before a substantial tenure (2003-14) as an assistant coach with Cal Lutheran—has consistently guided his team to a top 20 ranking. This season, CSUN is ranked #18 in the 2019 Collegiate Water Polo Association pre-season poll; to fill out his roster, Warshaw has recruited all along the West Coast—from British Columbia to Mexico City .

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Matadors build team unity with a different ball. Photo Courtesy: CSUN Athletics

Sanchez is clearly irreplaceable; she rewrote the CSUN record book for goals and attempts, as well as finishing third all-time in steals (242) and fifth in assists (156); her graduation has put a spotlight on which Matadors will step up to fill in the scoring and leadership void left by her departure. Bringing in junior college transfer Dafne Garcia from nearby Riverside City College and Tori Wilson from Hartwick in New York, Warshaw has an experienced core of three seniors and seven juniors to compete for a Big West title in 2019.

After the Matador’s opening weekend of action—which saw Wilson hit for seven goals in four games, and his squad play outstanding defense in close losses to #3 UCLA and #9 Michigan—Warshaw corresponded with Swimming World about losing Sanchez to graduation, the arrival of Wilson in Northridge, and what to expect from CSUN for this season.

– You lose Madeleine Sanchez, the Big West’s all-time leading scorer with 229 goals. What did she mean to your program and how do you replace such an all-time great?

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Madeleine Sanchez. Photo Courtesy: Patricia Perdomo

Not sure you can replace a Maddie Sanchez, she was such a presence in the pool that our opponents had to game plan for. We have some good young shooters in the program now that learned from watching Maddie and we’re looking forward to watching them develop and fill up the stat sheet like she did.

– As part of the disintegration of the Hartwick program, you ended up with Tori Wilson, who transferred in. How has Wilson’s arrival impacted your program?

Tori brings two years of D1 experience with her and a competitive nature that raises our level of training on a daily basis.

– You had a tough go of it last season in the Big West, with an 0-5 record. How does a team move up in the Big West when the teams ahead of you are consistently top-10 in the country?

That’s what makes the Big West so great. With all the teams in the top 20 it’s a great conference to be in. Our focus this training camp has been on team defense and communication. Last year with overtime losses to Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara we were close to picking up those two wins.

Big West competition is unlike any other.

– Brianna Coury—a New Zealand native who played high school polo in Michigan—red-shirted last year but is now ready to contribute. What do you expect from her in the 2019 Matadors season?

Brianna is a natural athlete who comes from a swimming background. The speed of the game has slowed down a bit for her and she’s been having some good workouts. We are looking forward to what the next few years have in store for her.

– You recently hired Candyce Schroeder as an assistant coach. She played at Indiana but is from England—not only the birthplace of the sport but currently a hotbed of polo growth. How does her experience benefit your program, especially in recruiting?

Coach Schroeder has been a great addition to the program. Originally from San Clemente her recruiting ties run deep in Orange County and San Diego. In addition her experience as a two time All-American at Indiana brings her instant credibility with a young Matador team.