Last Saturday was a day of extremes for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team. Following a 20-4 victory over SCIAC opponent Caltech, the Hens rushed over to Los Angeles to suffer a 22-5 defeat at the hands of the fourth-ranked University of California, Los Angeles, Bruins.
To be fair, some members of the Bruins’s starting lineup train with the US National Team during the offseason, and some of the biggest Sagehen highlights of the day occurred when the Sagehens competed with the high-caliber UCLA team.
The first goal for the Sagehens against UCLA came during the first period when the Sagehens faced the full starting lineup. Brenda Iglesias PO ’14 was in the perfect position to receive the rebound off a shot by Alyssa Woodward PZ ’15, and in one fluid motion, Iglesias caught and sent the rebound into the goal before the UCLA goalie could recover from Woodward’s shot.
The Bruins dominated the first half, holding the Hens to the goal by Iglesias and putting up an 8-0 second quarter. The Hens scored twice in the third quarter; the first goal came from Mahalia Prater-Fahey PO ’15 with a blindingly fast sweep out of the set position, which was followed by a man-up goal by Woodward. The fourth quarter was the best defensively for the Hens, when they held the Bruins to four goals to their own two. Prater-Fahey scored the first Sagehen goal of the fourth quarter, and Sarah Westcott PO ’15 scored the last goal with a minute and a half remaining to close out the score 22-5. Sarah Tuggy PO ’13 made nine saves in goal for the Hens.
“We play Division I teams for the experience of playing good teams and learning from the experience,” Head Coach Alex Rodriguez said earlier this season. Water polo is one of the few sports where a DIII program can compete against some of the top teams and players in the country.
“Because we are such a small sport, we get girls that probably could play Division I,” Rodriguez added.
The Sagehens had to face UCLA, one of the top teams in the nation, only a few hours after finishing their game against SCIAC opponent Caltech. The Hens held the Beavers scoreless in the first half, jumping ahead 5-0 after the first quarter and 11-0 at halftime.
Katy Schaefer PZ ’16 dominated the Sagehen scoring with a season- and team-high six goals against Caltech, followed by Chrissie Alving-Trinh PO ’15 and Sallie Walecka PO ’15 with three each. Alana Friedman PO ’16 scored her first goals of her college career in the matchup, contributing two. Westcott and Woodward also had two for the Hens, and Carter Grant PZ ’15 and Tuggy had a goal each.
The Sagehens played a match against Chapman University earlier this week, and they will finish off SCIAC play with a final home game and regular season finale against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Haldeman Pool. The Sagehens look forward to an exciting match against CMS; while the Athenas are undefeated in SCIAC and the Sagehens have two losses, the Athenas have fared similarly to the Hens against SCIAC—and some non-SCIAC—teams. Following the Sagehens’ 10-7 victory over Whittier College, the Athenas took a 10-6 victory over the Poets. While the Sagehens fell to the University of Redlands 6-7, the Athenas topped Redlands 6-5. Both teams lost to Brown University by one goal.
The CMS match is a crucial one for the Hens, not only for pride’s sake—though that is certainly a factor—but also to set the tone going into the final SCIAC tournament next weekend. A win against CMS would bump the Sagehens up in the SCIAC rankings and influence the seedings at the tournament. As the SCIAC champion team wins a trip to Harvard University for the NCAA tournament in May, the Hens see their regular season finale as another step to the SCIAC Championship and NCAA Championship.