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Mount St. Mary's to Add Men's and Women's Water Polo as Varsity Sports

water polo feature

Mount St. Mary's Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson has announced the addition of the Mount's 23rd and 24th sports as men's and women's water polo will become varsity sports beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

"We are very pleased to announce the addition of men's and women's water polo to our offering of varsity programs at Mount St. Mary's University." Robinson said. "Water polo has experienced tremendous growth in popularity over the past few years, including growth at the high school and club levels on the East Coast. This is another great opportunity for us to give students a chance to further their education at the Mount and compete at the Division I level."

Both sports are under the jurisdiction of the NCAA, and also under the guidance of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA). The NCAA has held a men's water polo championship since 1969 and a women's championship since 2001.

"We are excited to hear the news that Mount St. Mary's is adding men's and women's varsity water polo." CWPA Commissioner Dan Sharadin said. "The sport has been growing recently on the collegiate level and the addition of their teams provides more opportunities for the many high school athletes looking to compete at the highest level. Their academic reputation provides a perfect fit for the typical water polo athlete and the other members of our conference and we look forward to giving them any assistance necessary to get their teams started."

A national search will soon get underway to find the first coach for Mount St. Mary's water polo teams.

This announcement continues the Mount's plan to expand Division I athletic opportunities.  So far, the Mount has added men's swimming and diving (2016-17), women's rugby (2017-18) and women's bowling (2018-19), as well as the reinstatement of the men's soccer and men's and women's golf programs in 2018-19.

Water polo is a seven-on-seven sport, comprised of six attackers/defenders and a goalkeeper. Contests are 32 minutes long, divided into four periods of eight minutes. Should the game end in a tie, a pair of three minute overtime periods are added. If extra overtimes are necessary, the scenario shifts to sudden-victory.

Collegiate championship play for men's water polo took roots in the 1970's with women's competition coming 30 years later as a result of increasing popularity.

Invented as a sport in England in the mid-19th century, water polo has taken on many forms. The current adaptation has its roots in Scotland, where the game shifted from force to skill and the introduction of the current ball, which is similar to a soccer shape. The Scottish rules were adopted in 1911 by the Federation International de Natation Amateur (FINA) for use internationally.

Water polo came to the United States in 1888, featuring a rugby-style of play that resembled American football at the time. The U.S. played by its own rules when violent encounters such as underwater attacks persuaded organizers to abide by international rules in 1914. As the years passed, the game evolved into more of a soccer-style where play occurs above the water and defenders can only make contact on the opponent who has the ball.