Sagehens Falter vs. Cal Lutheran but Rebound vs. La Verne for a 12-11 Win

In a frustrating but eye-opening outing last Saturday morning at Haldeman Pool, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team narrowly fell to the Cal Lutheran Regals in overtime, 11-10. This game marked the second time this season in which the Sagehens have come from behind to take a game into overtime. This time, however, the unfavorable outcome did not fit the nationally top-ranked Sagehen’s expectations.

The Sagehens followed the loss with a 17-8 victory over La Verne, to bring their record to 11-12 overall (2-1 in league).

Two weeks ago, the Sagehens turned a fourth-quarter 5-10 deficit into a 12-11 victory against Azusa Pacific University after the second overtime period. Against Cal Lu, another slow start put them behind 0-2 partway through the first quarter until Perri Hopkins PI ’12 broke the Regal streak with the first Sagehen goal.

Inspired (but not the least distracted) by the adoring cheers and merciless anti-Regal jeers from their devoted swim team fans, the Sagehens refused to give the Regals more than a two-goal lead at any point in the game, constantly answering every Regal goal with one of their own.

Naneh Apkarian PO ’10 scored the clutch goal in the fourth quarter to end regulation, leaving the game tied at 9-9.

In overtime, the Regals scored one goal in the first three-minute period and one early in the second three-minute period, forcing the Sagehens to attempt a nail-biting race against the clock to score two goals in the final two-and-a-half minutes.

With less than 30 seconds left on the game clock, Tamara Perea PI ’11 scored the only Sagehen goal in overtime.

Despite the entire team’s cries to “press the steal” and take the ball back so they could send one final buzzer-beating “Hail Mary” shot toward the Regal goal, the ball ended the game in Regal possession.

Comparatively, the Sagehens gave a more balanced team effort than their Regal counterparts. 9 of the 11 Cal Lu goals came from the same 3 out of 15 available field players, while all 10 of the P-P goals were spread between 6 of 9 Hens. Perea, the Hens’ lead scorer, came through with three goals. Lefty Annie Oxborough-Yankus PI ’12, Karen Bonner PO ’10, and Apkarian scored a single goal apiece. Hopkins added to her goal in the first quarter with another in the second. Sarah Woods PO ’10 contributed two goals in the third and fourth quarters.

Other highlights of the game included a bizarre event in the second quarter when a Regal managed to break her hand when it came in contact with the face of Danielle Joseph PO ’10.

Ask any member of the team and they will tell you that the main problem with their offensive game was the number of blown opportunities and shots that went flying over and around the cage.

“Make the goalie block the ball,” Head Coach Alex Rodriguez said during halftime. “I would rather give the goalie a save than miss the goal completely.”

This makes sense from a coach’s perspective, as every shot on goal increases the chances of the goalie making a mistake. From the eyes of the shooter, however, every save by the goalie makes you significantly more and more reluctant to shoot. Sometimes, even if a shot ricochets off a bar on the goal, making the goalie jump the wrong way or not jump at all makes the shooter feel they did something right.

After the game, Rodriguez asked the team for suggestions about what they should do to prepare for the next inevitable encounter with the Regals. A list of possible shooting drills, better pre-game concentration, and a more extensive knowledge of their opponent’s abilities gained from this match should do the trick.

To prepare for last Saturday, the Sagehens forced themselves to sit in front of the TV and watch last year’s SCIAC final against Cal Lu. The mood dampened considerably as the video replayed scenes of missed shots and defensive flops, which the Sagehens would quickly learn not to replicate.

“We’ll get them back at SCIACs this year,” Perea said confidently.

Later that afternoon, the Sagehens unwound in a much more friendly and light-hearted match against the University of La Verne Leopards. The Leopards, whose seven-member team barely meets the minimum needed to play a game, have traditionally been on good terms with the Sagehens. This did not change even though the Hens played man-down for approximately half of the game. The Leopards considered this a friendly gesture and had high spirits throughout the match, which ended with a final score of P-P 17, La Verne 8.

P-P’s next home game against Sixth-Street rival CMS marks the last match before the SCIAC tournament, which the Sagehens will also host. The CMS game is Saturday, Apr. 24 at 7 p.m.

The Sagehens look forward to a packed stadium at Haldeman during the final all-SCIAC tournament in May, where they plan to reverse the outcome of last Saturday and last year to claim the SCIAC Championship trophy they deserve.