After playing 23 games beginning with the Cal Cup tournament in January and three more in the coming week, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team looks forward to their first SCIAC match against Occidental March 31
Predict all you want about SCIAC water polo standings, but upsets happen every year. In 2009, the Sagehens were the crowd favorite to take the SCIAC title, but was thwarted by Cal Lutheran in the championship match. In 2010, fans expected to see P-P and Cal Lutheran continue their rivalry from the previous year in the championship, but Occidental upset Cal Lutheran in the semifinals. In 2011, Occidental remained undefeated through the regular season but lost in sudden-death overtime in the championship game.
Although you probably will not be able to predict much about how the season will end, let us take a look at each of the SCIAC teams (in the order in which the Hens will face them) as we draw closer to SCIAC play.
Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens: The team currently has 9 first-years and 7 returning players, completely changing the team dynamic from past years. While the team’s current 8-14 record may not say much in favor of the Hens, they have played more games this season than any other SCIAC team and have defeated all three of the SCIAC foes they have faced so far this season. Finding where each of the first-years fit into the team dynamic has been one of the many challenges for the coaches this season, but the games so far have helped the team learn to play together. We will see if the Hens can pull together a championship-winning team this year.
Occidental Tigers: The Tigers are looking for revenge for last year’s championship match. They have the only shallow-ended pool in SCIAC and they have lost a few high-scoring seniors from last year but are the current most-talked-about team in Division III. The Tigers have taken one-goal wins over Division I then-tenth-ranked, currently 12th-ranked UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Monterey Bay in the beginning of March. Oxy beat the Hens both in the regular season and in the semifinals last year, while the Hens beat Oxy at their pool and in the championship the year before. Look forward to seeing how the rivalry plays out this year. The Hen’s first SCIAC match is at Occidental March 31.
Cal Tech Beavers: Traditionally no one has thought much about Cal Tech. This year, however, the Beavers are better than ever. They have already won three matches, against Penn State–Behrend, Vanguard and Virginia Military Institute. It will be interesting to see if they can surprise everyone this year. The Hens play the Beavers right after their game against Oxy March 31.
University of Redlands Bulldogs: The Hens beat the Bulldogs back in February pretty handily when both teams were missing their swimmers. Then again, the Hens defeated the Bulldogs during the regular season last year, but the Bulldogs went on to win the championship match. Now that the swim season is over, it will be interesting to see how both teams have improved. The Hens play them April 4 at Redlands for a night game.
La Verne Leopards: La Verne has not been the strongest team in the past, but their scores last year improved greatly. They narrowly lost to the Hens—falling by one goal—and this year they lost to Whittier and Occidental by the smallest of margins. Their progression over the last two years has been enough to turn heads and make SCIAC teams nervous. The Hens will face them April 11 at home.
Cal Lutheran Regals: Cal Lu and P-P have maintained a not-so-friendly rivalry in the past, and the Hens–Regals game is always tense, heated and close to the very end. The Hens have not seen or heard much of them this year, but they can surprise the Hens just as easily as the Hens can surprise them. The Hens play them at home a few days after the La Verne game.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas: It is fitting that the Hens’ last home game is a night game against the Athenas. The Athenas defeated the Hens in the regular season and in the third place game last year, so the Hens are determined to take back their rule over Claremont Colleges water polo this season. The Hens narrowly defeated them back in February, but again both teams playing with a full squad could make this a completely different match.
Whittier Poets: The last SCIAC match is at Whittier, the location of this year’s SCIAC playoffs. For whatever reason, the Poets have traditionally given the Hens a difficult time, but the Hens usually manage to come away with the win. While the Hens handily defeated them during the regular season last year, Whittier took the first round playoff match into overtime, and the Hens squeaked by with a one-goal win. The Hens defeated them 7-4 at Claremont Convergence this year, but until the end it was a closer game than the Hens would have liked.
The Hens have two home games tomorrow, against Long Beach State at 12 p.m. and Chapman at 3 p.m.