Putting the Hurt on Opponents
Feb. 2, 2009
By Todd Merriett, Bucknell Athletic Communications
Do you know how to pronounce Aubrey Rowe's last name? It seems simple enough, but there is a good chance you don't despite the fact she is one of the best players in Bucknell women's water polo history. For those of you that have only read it and not heard it, it rhymes with "ow".
Rowe, a senior and the lone captain on this year's squad, has been making Bison opponents say "ow" plenty over the last three years. She ranks in the top 10 in Bucknell history in eight different career categories and shows up at least once on 10 single-season top-10 lists, including first on the steals ledger with 84 last year.
A native of Carlisle, Pa., Rowe attended Cumberland Valley High School, which has a pipeline directly north on Route 15 to Bucknell. The connection between the two schools began in the late 1980s when former Bison head water polo coach John Zeigler '91 chose to attend Bucknell and become a member of the men's water polo squad. He stepped aside as coach in January 2008 to pursue a career in law, but he fostered the relationship between Bucknell and Cumberland Valley, bringing Rowe and former men's player Josh Sunday '08 to Lewisburg. This season, Rowe is joined by fellow CV alum Amanda Skonezney on the Bucknell roster.
The person who Rowe calls the fastest on the team, Skonezney, will be hard pressed to equal Rowe's rookie-year accomplishments. The 2006 CWPA Rookie of the Year, Rowe tallied 58 goals and piled up 79 points as a freshman to rank among the team leaders in both categories. She also earned First Team All-CWPA honors as she became the second of four consecutive Bison to earn all-conference plaudits as freshmen.
Also as a freshman, Rowe was second on the team in ejections drawn (42) and sprints won (34) and third in steals (34). Among her many highlights were her six-goal outburst against Wagner, which was one shy of the program record, and her 10-point performance opposite Cal State East Bay that equaled the school standard.
Unfortunately for Rowe, she suffered a shoulder injury and underwent surgery shortly after the end of her impressive debut campaign. She was out of the water for six months and never fully recovered as a sophomore. That year Rowe was healthy enough to play in 27 of Bucknell's 32 games, but saw her goal production cut in half.
"You push through and figure out what rehab, ice and everything can do for you," explains Rowe, who still produced a team-high 51 steals as a sophomore despite having virtually no range of motion in her shoulder during the offseason. "I was rehabbing all summer and fall trying to get back, but I wasn't ready to go and tried to get into it too early. It is frustrating to take that much time off. And you get incredibly out of shape, too."
Completely healthy, Rowe helped guide the Bison to the best season in the decade-long existence of the program last spring. She tallied career highs in goals (60), assists (34), points (94), steals (84) and shots (137), while the team posted a 26-10 mark, setting the record for most wins in a single season.
"It was exciting," says a smiling Rowe about the season that featured a pair of eight-game winning streaks. "It is great to see the program advance each year. One of the most exciting things was that we broke so many team records. It wasn't just individual accomplishments."
Coming off such an outstanding year, the expectations are high heading into 2009. However, Rowe cautions that the schedule ahead is tough and breaking the wins record is not a goal. Instead, the team captain wants to lead her squad to a Southern Championships title and a solid placing at the Eastern Championship. Additionally, Rowe wants to help the Bison to another win over league rival Princeton, which was ranked 16th nationally in the preseason. On a personal level, though, she is sure to want a win or two over fellow CWPA Southern Division foe Maryland since her sister, Callan, is a freshman on the Terps' roster.
"My family is really excited to see us face each other," smiles Rowe. "They can't decide which colors to wear, so they'll have to do half and half."
The Rowe family certainly has Feb. 15 and April 4 circled on the calendar. Those are the dates when the Bison and Terps square off. Both teams will also be at the Princeton Invitational in late February and at the Elite Six Invitational Feb. 28-March 1 at Kinney Natatorium.
Rowe's sister would likely fit in on the current edition of the Bison, given the nine freshmen on this year's squad. The youth puts additional weight on Rowe's shoulders to lead, especially because she is one of just three seniors left along with goalie Rachel McGillis and Kelsey Herrmann from a recruiting class that numbered seven.
"(Meagan) Gins and Jen Swoyer did a great job as captains last year," says Rowe. "I am not doing much different, but I spend a lot of focus on teaching the younger girls and setting a good example for them while still trying to condition myself."
With the loss of just two seniors from last year's team and the addition of the nine newcomers, Bucknell's second-year head coach John Abdou will have a much deeper bench at his disposal and Rowe is happy about that. Abdou used just three different starting lineups and an eight-player rotation in 2008, meaning the starters logged heavy minutes.
"We have the biggest bench since I was a freshman," explains Rowe, who will welcome the additional rest each game. "Playing long minutes can be tiring, so we are going to look for a lot of the freshmen to hop in where we need them."
Rowe will be sure to impart her wisdom on those rookies. She has had plenty of success in her career and certainly knows how to make an impact as a freshman.