P-P Water Polo Puts Up a Fight Against Top Competition

Morgan McCracken PO '18 launches the ball to put the Sagehens on the board against UC San Diego. (Maria Weiss • The Student Life)

The Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Water Polo team (5-8, 1-0 SCIAC) faced off against premiere competition at the Convergence Tournament on Saturday, Mar. 4 and Sunday, Mar. 5. A 1-3 record for the weekend and a 14-2 loss in their first game against Division I No. 6-ranked University of California at Irvine (11-7, 0-0 SCIAC) highlighted a tough weekend for the Hens. While the scores do not reflect the fight the Sagehens put up, the players are hoping that as they continue working together following these early losses, so success in the pool will come.

“I am really proud of how our team played at the Convergence Tournament,” said attacker Morgan McCracken PO ’18. “Our growing team chemistry is important, especially since we have so many newcomers this year. Our coach has a strong philosophy of the transformative power of difficult weekend tournaments–this weekend our team transformed into a cohesive and hard working group of women.”

The Sagehens did have some positive signs that show the team is trending in the right direction. They held UC Irvine scoreless in the first four minutes of the match and beat SCIAC rival Occidental Collge (2-6, 0-2 SCIAC) 10-5 on the second day of the tournament. Individually, center-forward Kyla Pickell PZ ’19 recorded a hat-trick against Oxy while utility player Hope Grant PO '17 had a strong performance offensively in the last game with two goals.

Captain Morgan Snow PO ’16 was effective throughout the tournament in coordinating the defense, while newcomer Natalie Hill PO ’19 was impressive on both offense and defense: She scored two goals and threatening the opposing defense from her position on the right side of the pool as a leftie.

Still, there are adjustments the team must make as it enters league play.

“I think when you play four games in two days many areas for improvement come to light: conditioning, off the ball movement, and body positioning to name a few, and it is important to learn how to sustain these even when we are tired,” center forward Christina Williamson PO ’17 said. “Lots of different scenarios come up in games that we can look at in film and discuss. Water polo is really an intricate game, so there is always a lot to learn and improve on.”

The Sagehens took to the pool in an away rematch against Occidental on Thursday, Mar. 10.  The match demonstrated their growth and improvement already from last week, as the Hens walked away with a 12-6 win over the Tigers.

Going into the game, the team felt ready to redeem themselves.

“We are excited to showcase Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo against Occidental–swimming fast, pressing hard, putting away shots, and being aware of the game,” McCracken added. “We always have a hard pre-season schedule so when we get to SCIACS, we are focused and can bring new techniques and skills gleaned from the hard teams we have previously played. I think this game against Occidental will allow us to adapt these skills into our strong play and continue to grow as a team.”

Attacker Ana Yu PO ’19 agreed with McCracken before the game: “We played them at the Convergence tournament this past weekend and it was a good preface to what may come this Thursday,” she said. “I think if the team stays focused and comes out hard, we should do pretty well against them. It's crazy to think that league games are starting, but I know the team is definitely ready and excited to play!” With the win over Oxy under their belts, the Sagehens have only begun showcasing their talents. They look to continue this success and grow as a team in the Arizona State University Tournament Mar. 18-19. 

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