Sagehens Edge Out Bucknell in OT, Go 2-3

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team struggled against strong competition
at the Claremont Convergence tournament, hosted last weekend March 7-8 at the Claremont Colleges. Lining up against some of the strongest water polo programs in the United States, the Sagehens
(10-7 overall, 0-0 SCIAC) dropped three of the four matches they played. 

First up on the docket for the Sagehens was an encounter against California State University, Long Beach, the No. 12 team in
the nation. Although the game was close in the opening minutes, it
did not take
long for the Prospectors to pull away. 

Coriann Snyder and
Cretcher, CSU Long Beach’s most prominent offensive threats, scored twice
each within
the first eight minutes to give the visitors a 5-2 buffer at the end of
first quarter. The second quarter brought no respite for the Sagehens, who could only manage one goal while conceding a further five. Down 10-3 at
halftime, a P-P comeback appeared unlikely, and Long Beach
scored another six in the second half to seal the deal with a 16-6 victory.

P-P had a chance to put the result
behind them as they faced Division II California State University, Monterey Bay, in the next game, but
the Sagehens carried over their anemic play from the CSU Long Beach game, going down
6-2 early. 

But the game was far from over. Hope Grant PZ ’17 and Alyssa Woodward PZ ’15, who each scored twice
against CSU Monterey Bay, along with Chrissie Alving-Trinh PO ’15, started a Sagehen rally late in the first half and the start of the second, as they
each scored, closing the gap to just one goal.

At the start of the fourth quarter, CSU Monterey Bay was holding on to a tenuous 7-5 lead, but that advantage was
eliminated when Sarah Westcott PO ’15 scored twice in quick succession within
the opening minutes. 

The floodgates were opened as the
Sagehens scored four more times and broke the game open on a 6-0 run. Vicky
Gyorffy PO ’15, recently returned from the swim team, made several vital steals and passes to set up many of P-P’s fourth-quarter goals, and the Sagehens prevailed 11-8.

Coach Alex Rodriguez praised his team’s
recovery in the game against CSU Monterey Bay.

CSU Monterey Bay plays “a very different type of water
polo,” he said. “They put a field player in with the goalie. We kind of struggled for a
while there, but then in the fourth quarter, Vicky Gyorffy and Sarah Westcott
got a couple steals and really picked up the pace so we didn’t give them a
chance to set their defense. Once the wheels came off for them, they couldn’t
handle the pressure.”

Woodward, who seems to be on her way to finishing as the team’s
top scorer for the third season in a row, also commented on the importance of the team

“We have never been a team that runs their offense around
one person because we have many players that can shoot the
ball when needed,” she said. “If it is your shot, then you must take it.” 

P-P returned
the next day hoping to maintain the momentum gained in the comeback
win, but the team faced a formidable opponent in the form of the University of California, Irvine, ranked No. 6 in the country. The Anteaters’ defense was stifling and their offense
overpowering, eventually proving to be too much for the Sagehens. A
penalty shot by Woodward was P-P’s only score of the match; Irvine cruised
to a 19-1 win.

Despite the lopsided score line, Woodward said that playing strong
opposition is important to the Sagehens’ development.

“We play these big
teams in
hope to gain experience and learn from them,” she said. “The past
two years we have showed
in our conference that we are top competitors and the back-to-back SCIAC
Championships that we have earned comes to show that playing the big DI and DII teams pays off in the long run.” 

Things did not get much easier
for the Sagehens, as their next game was against No. 11 University of California, San Diego. Fortunately, P-P was able to put on a much more
competitive show, starting fairly well as two goals by Woodward saw the
Sagehens cut the Tritons’ lead to 5-3 midway through the second half. 

would, however, be as close as the hosts got to their DI
opponents, who
scored two goals on either side of the half to stretch the lead out to 9-3. Westcott, Woodward, and Christina Williamson PO ’17 scored in succession
through the fourth quarter to raise brief hopes of a Sagehen comeback,
but it
was not to be, as UCSD prevailed 11-6.

Despite the three losses, Rodriguez found plenty to be optimistic about.

“For us, it’s so early in the season, we
just got back our swimmers [from the P-P swim team], so we’re trying to
incorporate them,” Rodriguez said. “All four teams that we played have been practicing since the
fall, so we’re still trying to figure out things that they already have put in
place structure-wise. I thought the weekend was good for us. I always like
playing better teams than worse teams.”

The players had another opportunity to improve cohesion as they played Bucknell University on Wednesday, March 12—cohesion they seemed to find, beating the Bison 11-9 in overtime.

The Sagehens travels to the University of Redlands today for the Lancer
Invite, where they are playing the Virginia Military Institute at noon and St.
Francis College at 4:30 p.m.

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