Sagehen women’s water polo crowned SCIAC champions after perfect conference season

A PP water polo athlete is about to throw the ball.
Goalkeeper May Lin PO ’24 throws a forward pass to her teammate following a successful save. (Abbey Liao • The Student Life)

With a little less than six minutes left in the first half of the SCIAC championship game, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team was cruising. 

Attacker Madison Lewis PO ’23 netted a goal with 5:17 left until halftime, putting the Sagehens up 8-3 over the Whittier Poets while replicating their dominant 12-6 winning performance against the same Poets just over a month ago. 

However, Whittier caught fire late in the first half, going on a furious 9-5 scoring run and carrying their momentum into a 13-12 deficit halfway through the fourth quarter. Game on the line, the Sagehens needed an answer to preserve their lead. 

Before this exciting back-and-forth SCIAC championship affair, though, the Sagehens first faced Cal Lutheran in the semis to reach the big match. 

P-P came into the SCIAC postseason after a dominant 19-8 outing against La Verne on the final day of the regular season, riding a seven game winning streak while being a perfect 12-0 against conference competition. 

The Sagehens started the game against Cal Lu with a bang after Namlhun Jachung PZ ’24 found the back of the net in the opening minute. This was followed by flawless performances on both sides of the ball from P-P throughout the first quarter.

A PP water polo athlete is about to throw the ball.
Madison Lewis PO ’23 looks for an open teammate as a Whittier defender attempts to block her. (Abbey Liao • The Student Life)

At the back, Sagehen goalie May Lin PO ’24 kept the Regals scoreless by actively defending Cal Lutheran’s shots. The offense, meanwhile, added three more goals from Allison Sullivan-Wu PO ’22, Nadia Paquin PO ’22 and Kaylee Stigar PO ’25 to bring the score up to 4-0 by the end of the first eight minutes.

Despite the Sagehens rolling, the Regals refused to give up entering the second quarter; both teams intensely traded back-and-forth possessions until Cal Lu put themselves on the board early in the quarter. P-P responded with sound defensive plays and translated them into transition offense, featuring goals by Madison Lewis PO ’23. 

Within one minute of the third quarter, Lucie Abele PO ’22 made a smooth, aggressive move and scored. This encouraged teammates Alexandra Szczerba PO ’25 and a second from Paquin within a minute apart late in the quarter, which came with a one-goal Cal Lu response. After the end of the third, the score expanded to 8-2.

The Regals instantly responded in the final quarter, scoring two back-to-back goals to cut the P-P lead to four goals. Despite this push, Katherine Cullen PZ ’22 came up with her own consecutive pair of goals to enlarge the lead back to 10-4.

After this back-and-forth, the game ended with last-minute goals from each team including a goal from Aurora Sheridan PO ’23 with only eight seconds to play.

The final result was an 11-5 victory for the Sagehens, advancing them to face Whittier in the SCIAC final. 

Though P-P dominated the Poets early in the match, jumping out to an 8-3 lead, Whittier struck a fire late in the second quarter to furiously rally back by a close 13-12 margin within the 3:46 mark in the fourth. 

But that would be the last goal scored for the Poets in the SCIAC postseason tournament. P-P responded with clutch goals scored from Paquin, Lewis and Cullen, effectively ending the game 16-12. 

Lewis was awarded SCIAC tournament MVP for her stellar three goal and four assist  performance in the final.

After defeating the Poets in the 2022 SCIAC postseason final, the Sagehens have achieved the postseason crown six times within the past decade. They earned the rights to host part of the Division III national championships, scheduled to face Augustana in the semifinals May 7.

After a tight heavyweight match between No. 1 seeded P-P and No. 3 seeded Whittier, the Sagehens pulled out a tight 16-12 victory for the SCIAC championship. (Courtesy: P-P Women’s Water Polo)
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