The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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OLYMPIC SPORTS PROFILE Junior Water Polo Player Kiki Golden Attacks From All Angles junior attacker Kiki Golden is one of the most scintillating offensive players there is in collegiate water polo. But it wasn't her abilities with the ball in her hand that first caught the attention of Michigan head coach Matt Anderson when scouting the former standout prep prospect. "When I recruited Kiki, I recruited her because of her defensive skills, even though she was a great offensive player, day one that she was already ready to play college-level defense. "She can change the game defensively " Anderson said. "I told her from regardless of who we are playing. I can say unequivocally that we have one of the two best defensive players on the East Coast. She is a big part of the de- fensive mentality that drives what we are going to do. said Golden, whose 78 steals as a rookie rank second in program history among freshmen. "I think when you make stops on defense you are motivated to coun- ter attack and work harder offensively. The other premier player Anderson re- " ferred to is sophomore Indiana attacker Shae Fournier. The two stars clashed in a nationally televised March 21 contest on Senior Night in Ann Arbor. Golden lived up to her billing on the Golden produced team bests in goals (60) and total points (93) in U-M's first 32 games this season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS big stage, scoring a goal and assisting on three others, and fueled Michigan's defense with three critical steals. How- ever, the scoreboard at the end of the critical late-season divisional matchup read a disappointing 8-7 loss that snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Wolverines. "Kiki's production is based on the team winning and losing," Anderson said. "To her, the individual accolades are irrelevant. six seniors to graduation a year ago, winning and losing depends heavily on Golden's production both in the water and locker room. Fortunately, she has been the model For a Maize and Blue squad that lost " of consistency as a teammate. "Losing a lot of the seniors last year re- ally forced me to step up and help lead the team to where we want to go this season, Although she focuses first on de- " fending the other team's best play- ers, Golden has proven to be a potent threat in the offensive waters from the day she stepped foot on campus, scor- ing 78 goals and adding 60 assists in her first two years of collegiate compe- tition. This season, she leads the team with 93 points through April 16, and her 60 goals are more than any of her team- mates' total point production besides sophomore Kelsey Nolan (62 points). Between her size, skill and aggressive- "She has such wonderful body control and length that you don't often find on a water polo player. And flexibility and the ability to change her body position in half a stroke. en's best, her versatility, both physically and mentally, makes her one of the pre- mier players in the sport. "She has done a great job this year ness, it is difficult to pinpoint the 5-10, Danville, Calif., native's most effective offensive trait. She personally favors her ability to drive in one-on-one situ- ations, but her coaches and teammates struggle to choose just one element of her multi-faceted skill set. "Kiki is an all-around great player," a lot more minutes and I think I have stepped up, as have a lot of the juniors and sophomores. " Golden said. "I have had to play junior goalie Alex Adamson said. "She doesn't really have too many pockets where people can work against her. She is fast, she is aggressive, she is a smart shooter and a great passer. As long as she gets her looks, she is going to do great things. cause she can maneuver in ways that a normal person can't, "One of her nicknames is 'Slinky' be- " Anderson said. " Regardless of which attribute is Gold- " "I always pride myself on defense," " Already a two-time All-American, deferring to whoever is playing better in any given game and adjusting to the role she needs to fill," Anderson said. "That is why she is as good of a player as there is out there. others involved, and an intense fo- cus on the defensive side of the ball, Golden has tallied seven hat tricks in the first 32 games of the season to help put U-M (21-11) in a position to make a run at an NCAA Tournament appear- ance after missing the cut a year ago for the first time since 2005. "I don't really have any individual Even with her determination to get " like any team we are trying to win a national championship. " Golden said, "and " — Kevin Minor MAY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 75 goals, but we're trying to get to San Diego for the NCAAs,

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