Woodward Comes Through, Sagehens Topple Athenas

As promised, the Sixth Street rivals put on an intense battle in Axelrod Pool on Saturday, April 19, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo teams faced off for their last regular-season matchup. The Sagehens jumped out to an early lead, fended off an Athena comeback, and scored the game-winning goal in sudden death overtime as Alyssa Woodward PZ '15 found the back of the net on a penalty shot to give P-P the 8-7 win.

“I thought we controlled the tempo most of the game,” P-P head coach Alex Rodriguez said. “We like to control the pace.”

The Sagehens pounced on the Athenas from the get-go, scoring the first four goals of the match. Woodward, Mahalia Prater-Fahey PO '15, Vicky Gyorffy PO '15, and Sarah Westcott PO ’15 each scored in the first quarter. The win gives P-P the top seed in the upcoming SCIAC tournament.

“I knew it was going to be a battle,” Rodriguez said. “Seeding into the tournament is very big.”

After a CMS timeout, Alex Toohey CM ’14 scored with 2:18 left in the first quarter to spark a much needed 3-0 run, including two of her own contributions and another from Haley Connor CM ’15. Going into halftime, P-P kept its lead at 5-4.

The early deficit came back to haunt CMS by the end of the match.

“I think we came out waiting to react to them,” Candace Filippelli CM ’14 said. “The first quarter nipped us in the butt toward the end.”

The Athenas didn’t let the slow start of the first quarter dictate their drive in the second half, however, as they took their first lead with 3:25 left in the third quarter following a goal by Filippelli.

The Sagehens quickly responded to the CMS comeback effort with two goals by Woodward and Prater-Fahey to take a 7-6 lead heading into the fourth. CMS head coach Greg Lonzo felt that the initial 4-0 deficit took too much out of his team.

“Going down 4-0 to start the game makes it a real challenge,” Lonzo said. “It’s a hard hole to dig out of, especially against a good team.”

The Athenas did not go down easily, however. With 6:24 left in the game, Rose Koper CM ’15 restored hope for CMS by scoring the Athenas' lone fourth-quarter goal, tying the game 7-7. Then, with only seconds remaining on the game clock, goalie Allison Hu CM ’15 saved a free shot that would have given P-P the win in regulation.

Both overtimes went scoreless; a Sagehen goal in the second was disallowed due to a 2-meter violation. P-P had already lost two opportunities to clinch the victory, but players remained confident that more opportunities would come their way.

"We got the next opportunity," Woodward said. "It was back-and-forth the whole time, but we were just trying to capitalize in overtime.”

CMS won the opening sprint of the sudden-death overtime, but Westcott immediately stole a long pass. P-P came down the other way and drew an ejection on CMS, giving Woodward the 5-meter penalty shot. Woodward beat Hu, and the Sagehens went home victorious.

“Every game is a competition," Woodward said. "It’s not a walk in the park. But I feel much more confident going into the tournament.”

The game-winning shot brought Woodward’s goal tally to three. Prater-Fahey ended with three goals as well, and Westcott and Gyorffy each had one apiece. Toohey led CMS with two goals, while Conner, Shannon Golden CM ’17, Koper, Candace Filippelli, and Alyssa Filippelli CM ’14 each added one.

With the win, the Sagehens rose to the No. 1 seed heading into the SCIAC tournament this weekend, hosted by Whittier College. P-P will play the winner of the University of La Verne vs. California Institute of Technology matchup, and CMS will face Chapman University as the No. 2 seed.

Both teams are looking forward to the playoffs this weekend and a possible rematch in the SCIAC Championship, which will take place on Sunday, April 27.