Junior Claire Pierce became the first water polo player in program history to earn Academic All-America honors on Wednesday.
Already carrying back-to-back Academic All-District awards under her belt, Cal State East Bay water polo player Claire Pierce earned the first Capital One Academic All-America Division II Women’s At-Large honors of her career on Wednesday. A two-time All-American and All-WWPA First Team selection, Pierce continued to be rewarded for her equally impressive efforts in the classroom, earning a spot on the Third Team to become the first Academic All-American for the Pioneers since they returned to NCAA Division II competition in 2009-10.
The Perth, Australia, native became East Bay’s new all-time leading scorer after posting 87 goals to lead the team and rank among the best in the NCAA. Pierce brought her career total to 264 to become the most prolific scorer in program history, surpassing Liz Warren’s previous record of 241 set in 2011. The junior also added 44 steals to finish third on the team and posted 96 ejections drawn to account for more than one-third of the team’s total. Pierce now holds the second-highest career steals total in program history at 195 and ranks both second and fourth on the season goals top-10 list at East Bay.
During the 2012 campaign, Pierce helped guide the Pioneers to a third-place showing at the WWPA Championships, the best finish in program history at the event. The junior scored four goals in three games at the tournament, helping East Bay hold off Cal State Monterey Bay in the third-place game to earn the 7-6 victory and the program-best finish, earning WWPA All-Tournament Team honors for the second time. In addition, Pierce earned a pair of WWPA Player of the Week awards during the season, including the honors on Mar. 28 after she scored 23 goals during a 4-1 weekend that included a pair of wins against Division I opponents.
Out of the pool, Pierce has been one of the top students on the water polo team throughout her career, earning a 3.79 cumulative grade point average. A kinesiology major, Pierce is also a two-time WWPA and ACWPC All-Academic honoree. She also joined women’s soccer player Tenaya Davis as the only two Pioneers to earn Academic All-District honors this season.
One of just two water polo players to earn a spot on any of the three Division II Academic All-America Women’s At-Large teams, Pierce is the first Pioneer women’s water polo player in program history to earn the honor. Pierce is the only women’s water polo player from the WWPA to collect Academic All-America honors this season and was joined by just one men’s water polo player from the conference – the Tritons’ Brian Donohoe – on the Division I or Division II teams. She also joined UC San Diego swimmers Emily Adamczyk and Luke Calkins as the only At-Large Team honorees from schools that are members of the CCAA.
Voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the Capital One Academic All-America Women’s At-Large Teams are comprised of the top student-athletes both in and out of the competitive arena from any sport other than soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, cross country and track. Nominees are required to be a starter or important reserve with sophomore or higher academic standing and at least a 3.3 grade point average. Only student-athletes who are named Academic All-District First Team are eligible to earn Academic All-America honors and schools are divided into four categories, Division I, II and III and College Division. Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 15,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, across all NCAA championship sports.