Women’s Water Polo Defeats #1 Oxy, Caltech and Redlands

Before a full stadium at Occidental College’s Taylor Pool, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team took down the Tigers 15-13 in double overtime.

This game was the most anticipated game of the season for both the Tigers and the Sagehens—ranked first and second in the nation, respectively—and it was the SCIAC regular-season opener. Oxy became the team to beat when they defeated nationally ranked UC Santa Barbara earlier in March. Both teams and their fans were fired up for the duel in the pool. 

Throughout the first two quarters, the Hens and Tigers matched each other goal for goal. Despite the extra goal space given by the shallow end, both teams had trouble finding the net, and most of the action occurred on the deep end. Sagehen scoring was bolstered by the lightning-fast backhands of Mahalia Prater-Fahey PO ’15 and by the dominance of Sarah Westcott PO ’15, with her uncanny ability to draw six-on-five advantages.

Things really started to look up for the Hens in the third quarter, when Perri Hopkins PZ ’12 found her time to shine with three goals. The Hens finished the third quarter with a 9-7 lead, extended to 10-7 when Annie Oxborough-Yankus PZ ’12 scored on a penalty shot at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

The Tigers were not about to give up in the fourth quarter. They scored three straight before Vicky Gyorffy PO ’15 sped one past the Oxy goalie on a counterattack. With the clock winding down, the Sagehens up by one and the ball in Oxy possession, a Tiger shot bounced off the crossbar and landed next to the goal. Before the Sagehen defense could react, an Oxy player flicked the ball into the goal to tie the score at 11 with 0.2 seconds left on the game clock. 

0.2 seconds was not enough time for the Hens to get another shot, and the game was sent into two three-minute overtime periods. With the Hens defending the massive shallow-end goal in the first overtime period, Oxy scored first. Gyorffy answered with a goal of her own, having stolen the ball out of Oxy possession and landed a one-on-nobody shot. Oxy scored for the final time at the end of the first overtime.

Alyssa Woodward PZ ’15 found her sweet spot in that little pool in the second overtime. Woodward scored both goals of the period, once on a five-meter penalty shot and again on a successfully converted 6-on-5 play. In a final shot attempt, Oxy sent a long-range lob into the hands of goalie Sarah Tuggy PO ’13, and the Hens played keep-away for the final seconds of the game.

Despite remaining low on the goal-scoring during the preseason, Gyorffy’s three goals during the Oxy game, combined with her winning the majority of the sprints at the beginning of each quarter, named her the SCIAC Athlete of the Week for all women’s sports. 

Immediately following their victory at Oxy, the Hens faced the Cal Tech Beavers, where the swimmers found their time to shine. Brenda Iglesias PO ’14 and Prater-Fahey led the team with three goals each, while Alex Lincoln PO ’14, Chrissie Alving-Trinh PO ’15 and Westcott added two goals each in the 15-6 win.

Then last Wednesday, the Hens traveled to the University of Redlands for a night game versus the Bulldogs.

Redlands posed a whole new challenge for the Sagehens. The Bulldogs are notoriously known for throwing long-range shots and then storming the goal in hopes of a rebound off the goalie or the goal posts. They certainly converted a lot of those opportunities during Wednesday night’s game. 

The Hens started up 2-0 early in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs battled back, and the Hens were never ahead by more than 2. The Bulldogs gained momentum in the third quarter when they tied the score at 5, but the Hens found how to better defend the rebounding “garbage goals” and nearly shut down the Bulldog offensive afterward.

The fourth quarter was the best for Sagehen teamwork. Hopkins ruined a Redlands time-out play with a steal and then made a perfect pass to fellow senior Oxborough-Yankus clear on the other side of the pool for a one-on-nobody goal for the Hens. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Alving-Trinh drew a five-meter penalty, scored by Woodward, that gave the Hens a safe 9-6 lead that the Bulldogs ultimately could not return. Redlands managed one more goal in the final 30 seconds of the match, but the Hens kept the ball in their possession to finish the game at 9-7. 

The victories of the last week put the Hens in first place in the SCIAC, with a 3-0 conference record. The Hens will enjoy a restful Easter weekend off before facing La Verne and Azusa Pacific April 11 and Cal Lutheran April 14.

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