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Three Pioneer water polo players earn All-America honors


Jayme Pekarske joined teammates Claire Pierce and Erica Crain as 2012 ACWPC All-Americans after guiding the team to its best finish at WWPA Championships. (Photo: Michael Chen)

  • June 25, 2012

Following a 2012 campaign that saw it record its best finish in program history at WWPA Championships, the Cal State East Bay water polo team was rewarded with Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Division II All-America honors for Claire Pierce, Jayme Pekarske and Erica Crain. The accolades mark the first time since 2009 that three Pioneers have earned All-America status with Pierce and Pekarske earning a spot on the First Team and Crain collecting Second Team honors.

Pierce becomes just the second East Bay player to garner three All-America awards and is the only player in program history to ever earn a spot on the First Team three times. During the 2012 campaign, Pierce led the team in scoring with 87 goals, a total that not only ranked among the best in the nation, but also pushed her career total to 264, making her the most prolific goal scorer in Pioneer history. The Perth, Australia native also added 44 steals to move into second on East Bay’s career top 10 list and accounted for more than one-third of the team’s total ejections drawn this year with 96.

The junior adds her third straight All-America honors to several other accolades this season, including All-WWPA First Team honors, a WWPA All-Tournament First Team selection and both Capital One Academic All-District and Academic All-America recognition for her work both in the pool and in the classroom. Pierce also collected a pair of WWPA Player of the Week honors in 2012, 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.

An All-WWPA Honorable Mention selection, Pekarske earned her first All-America nod after ranking among the best in the nation in saves with 313 and save percentage at 57.2 percent. Pekarske held opponents to eight or fewer goals 16 times in 2012, including six games in which the opposition scored five goals or less. She helped the Pioneers post seven wins against Division I opponents, including a sudden-death victory over Brown in March in which she set a new career high with 23 saves.

The Riverside native finished her career ranked second all-time at East Bay in saves with 662 in just two seasons in the cage for the Pioneers. In addition to All-WWPA honors, the senior collected WWPA All-Tournament First Team accolades and was named WWPA Player of the Week on Mar. 8.

Crain finished the 2012 campaign as the Pioneers’ second-leading scorer, posting 60 goals, and led the team in assists with 48. In addition to playing offense, Crain was also a force to be reckoned with defensively, grabbing 65 steals on the year to rank second on the team. A Modesto native, Crain ranked among the top 10 in the nation in steals and finished her two-year East Bay career ranked fourth all-time in assists with 94, while also ranking 10th all-time in goals and steals. The senior driver adds the All-America honors to her All-WWPA Honorable Mention honors.

This season, the trio helped guide Cal State East Bay to its best-ever finish at the WWPA Championships, toppling both Santa Clara and Cal State Monterey Bay to claim third place in the tournament. The Pioneers also posted seven wins against Division I opposition and 12 victories against conference foes.

Pekarske, Pierce and Crain were joined by seven other student-athletes from WWPA schools on the Division II All-America Teams, including a pair each from UC San Diego, Cal State Monterey Bay and Sonoma State. The Pioneers had the most selections from any school among the 14 Division II All-Americans. The Otters, who finished fourth at the WWPA Tournament, were recognized with Division II Player of the Year honors for Nikki Smart and Coach of the Year accolades for Gary Figueroa.

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