In one of the more memorable victories of the season, the
Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team prevailed 7-6 on the road against Whittier College on Wednesday, April 9. The win gave the Sagehens a much-needed boost to their
conference championship chances.
The Sagehens (17-13, 3-1 SCIAC) came into the
game on the back of a 7-6 win April 2 against the University of Redlands, which followed a loss to Occidental College on March 29 that gave P-P’s game against Whittier heightened significance.
The Whittier Poets entered the Wednesday night match with a perfect 5-0 record in
SCIAC play. The only other team with a perfect record in the conference is Claremont-Mudd-Scripps,
who went to 5-0 in league play with a 12-8 triumph over Redlands, also on Wednesday. That meant a win against Whittier was necessary for the
Sagehens if they wanted to avoid being cut off from the top of the regular
“They got a couple of transfers and a couple of good
freshmen,” head coach Alex Rodriguez said before the game. “They got a bunch of young girls who are very good. I think we have a
big challenge on our hands tonight.”
The game started out tight, as both teams
seemed painfully aware of the significance the match might have to the ultimate
SCIAC standings. Both sides traded a goal apiece in a low-scoring first
quarter as Mahalia Prater-Fahey PO ’15 found the back of the net for P-P.
found a little burst of energy to start the second quarter, and a couple of
quick-fire goals gave the Sagehens a slight 3-1 cushion. But the
Poets, who fired 15 past Occidental in their last league outing, were keen to show
P-P that they would not give up their undefeated record without a fight. Whittier goals on either side of halftime brought the score to 3-3 as the third quarter began.
The hosts were threatening to kick into a higher gear, but the Sagehens were able to neutralize the Poets’ momentum as Alyssa Woodward PZ ’15 notched back-to-back goals in the third quarter.
With a 5-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter,
the Sagehens were within reach of the upset, although nerves were tested as
Whittier scored early in the first to bring the margin back to one goal.
However, Prater-Fahey and Vicky Gyorffy PO ’15 responded by scoring a goal
each to give P-P a seemingly unassailable 7-4 lead as the game headed into
its dying minutes.
Jasmine Villalpando led the late rally for the home
team, scoring twice as Whittier attempted to storm back and take its sixth win in
a row in SCIAC play. With a minute and a half left, Whittier gained possession
of the ball, and foul trouble for P-P brought the game to a six on five.
The Sagehens were able to hold on, however, ending Whittier’s undefeated
streak and putting P-P right back in contention for a high finish in the SCIAC
ahead of the postseason tournament.
Stand-in goalie Sallie Walecka PO ’15 said that there is room for P-P to improve, however.
“I think we still need to work on taking off on other teams,” Walecka said. “The past three conference games have been one-point games when I feel like we could have really taken the momentum of the game and won by a lot more. It is dangerous to let the other team hang around, which is a lesson we learned with Oxy when they won with a rebound with one second left on the clock.”
P-P knows that there are few teams in
the conference capable of matching an in-form Sagehen squad, which gives them a confidence
boost as they get ready to finish off SCIAC play with two home games and a
rivalry match against CMS. The Sagehens will take on the California Institute of Technology tomorrow, April 12, at 11 a.m. at home.