Revenge is so very, very sweet. Especially when it targets an opponent that was already looking right past you.
In January, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team lost to the Redlands Bulldogs 6-14, marking the first time the team has lost to Redlands for as long as Coach Alex Rodriguez can remember.
That made Wednesday’s 10-9 double overtime Sagehen victory all more sweet. They may have “messed up someone’s season,” as Rodriguez jokes.
The Redlands Bulldogs did not expect the Hens to hand them their first conference loss. Despite the majority of the team battling the cold or recovering from the disabled list, the Hens showed that they deserved the three SCIAC Championships they've won in the last four years.
The match was a nail-biter all the way—neither team was ahead by more than two points at any time. Things started off solidly for the Sagehens when Perri Hopkins PZ ’12 scored two goals in the first quarter to keep the game tied at 2-2. Hopkins scored her third goal amidst an offensive flurry in a second quarter that also saw Tamara Perea PZ ’11 score from “beyond the Tijuana border” (a term coined by an announcer at the 2010 NCAA Tournament). Lefty Annie Oxborough-Yankus PZ '12 scored one on a man-up play, and lightning-fast Alex Lincoln PO ’14 scored on a counter-attack.
Perea was the only member of the Hens who scored in the third, and the teams were tied at seven going into the fourth. Hopkins scored within the first minute of the quarter to give the Hens a one-goal lead, but the Bulldogs answered with a goal of their own and neither team scored after that, which sent the game into two 3-minute overtime quarters. Hopkins gave the Hens a 9-8 lead with five seconds left in the first overtime period. In the final 3-minute overtime period, the Bulldogs scored first, but Emma Huang PZ ’11 scored in the next possession for the final goal of the game. Despite time-outs called by both coaches at the end, the Bulldogs couldn’t come back.
The Hens improved defensively since their last showing against the Bulldogs. The number of subjectively defined “garbage goals” against the Hens went from about 6 or 7 to 0. Perea led the pool with six steals throughout the game, Oxborough-Yankus stole two, and Lincoln, Huang, and Hopkins each recorded a steal. Playing keeper, this reporter stuffed 10 shots after implementing some new goalie techniques under the instruction of Matt Ward PZ ’11.
After that victory, however, the Hens suffered a disappointing loss to the CMS Athenas last Saturday with a score of 9-2. What do these two games tell us about the rest of the season? The team only has one more conference game before playoffs. Rodriguez explained to the team that almost every conference game is both winnable and losable. The teams in SCIAC are more balanced than they were last year in that most teams have the potential to beat any other team in the conference. Rodriguez made it clear that with the team’s small numbers, “heart” and “hustle” will ultimately make or break the conference and playoff games.
Tomorrow the Hens will have their last conference game against Cal Lutheran. Next Saturday, they will begin playoff games. If they win the SCIAC Championships, they will travel to New York to play the winner of an East Coast conference, moving on to the Division I NCAA Championships if they win that game. Otherwise, they will attend the Division III Championships the weekend before finals.