Nationally Top-Ranked Sagehens Prepare to Battle Rival Cal Lutheran

The Cal Lutheran Regals are looking to protect their 2009 SCIAC Champions title. The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens aim to enact some serious revenge for last year and demonstrate exactly why they’re ranked first in Division III.

The Sagehens women’s water polo team recalls the SCIAC Championship match in May 2009 not too fondly. In that game, the Regals came from behind to snatch the title from the Hens. P-P did get back at the Regals by claiming the first rank in Division III, but they have yet to show them directly who really rules the pool. The Sagehens plan to take all their hatred for high-lighter purple and white out on the Regals tomorrow.

Saturday, Apr. 10 at 11 a.m. at Pomona’s Haldeman Pool, the women’s water polo team will face their archrivals in their second SCIAC game. The team has lost a bit of sleep this week in anticipation of the game, which offers the chance for which they’ve been waiting so patiently.

Both teams have similar records this season, so it’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome of tomorrow’s game. Both lost to Iona College at the Convergence Tournament and beat Redlands. Numerically, Cal Lu has the advantage, but the Sagehens have long since grown accustomed to having fewer personnel than their opponents. Tomorrow will tell which team is in better shape, has done their homework in picking apart their opponents’ strategies, or is simply more unrelenting.

The Sagehens’ explosive start to the SCIAC season - with a 9-6 victory over the University of Redlands Bulldogs - will hopefully carry into tomorrow’s game. This victory proved the legitimacy of their last win over the Bulldogs back in January, as P-P beat Redlands for the second time this season despite the Bulldogs’ home pool advantage.

P-P started the game strong defensively, completely shutting down the Bulldogs in the first quarter and putting two goals of their own on the board, both scored by Perri Hopkins PI ’12. Tamara Perea PI ’11 contributed both of the goals in the second quarter. An additional three goals in the third came twice from Annie Oxborough-Yankus PI ’12 and once from Sarah Woods PO ’10. The final two scores in the fourth were donated by Hopkins and the newly returned Naneh Apkarian PO ’10.

The Hens also delivered on their specialty: 13 team steals.

Karen Bonner PO ’10, Woods, Dana Kingman PI ’11, and Danielle Joseph PO ’10 each supplied two steals to this statistic, and both of Bonner’s steals led to assists for goals.

Last Tuesday, the Hens also played a doubleheader against Brown and Azusa Pacific University, falling to Brown in the first game 3-8 and knocking down Azusa Pacific University (APU) 12-11 in overtime. P-P’s lead scorers, Perea and Oxborough, combined to score all three of the goals in the match against Brown and half of the goals against APU. Emma Huang PI ’11 briefly came off the disabled list to score one goal, Hopkins scored two wrap-around shots, and Woods scored twice on counter-attacks.

The Hens struggled against APU, going down 5-10 entering the fourth quarter. But in a truly remarkable comeback, they scored five goals in rapid succession to tie the game at the end of regulation. APU scored the first goal in overtime, but goals from Perea and Hopkins put APU away for good.

“That game was more exciting than many NCAA games I’ve coached in,” Head Coach Alex Rodriguez told the team after the game. “Don’t ever do that to me again.”

Preferably, the game would not have gone into overtime in the first place. After all, the Hens handily defeated APU during the Convergence Tournament not four days prior. The main difference this time was that APU didn’t have to play a second game that same day. Because the Sagehens were likely physically and mentally drained from the loss to Brown, they did not show their best performance against APU.

“The women’s team has a habit of coming through even when they don’t have their best games,” Rodriguez explained after the victory over Redlands, reflecting on both the Redlands and the APU matches.

The Hens’ currently have a 7-10 record, 3-0 against SCIAC teams. As previously mentioned, they play their next two SCIAC matches at home tomorrow. P-P faces off against Cal Lu at 11 a.m. and La Verne at 4 p.m.

The Sagehens hope to break this streak of nerve-wracking, nail-biting, barely-squeaking-out-with-a-win games. They’re determined to come out tomorrow with total sovereignty over the Regals and to remain undefeated in SCIAC this season.