On Saturday, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team (14-18, 7-1 SCIAC) celebrated Senior Day and the end of their final regular-season with a huge 10-6 win over the Chapman University Panthers (6-20, 3-5 SCIAC). Fresh off their victory against CMS (9-19, 3-5 SCIAC) two days prior, the Sagehens solidified a number two seed heading into the SCIAC Tournament this weekend.
The Sagehens wasted no time executing offensively as Jocelyn Castro PZ ’18 scored off an assist from Morgan McCracken PO ’18 in the first 20 seconds. Though Chapman answered two minutes later with a goal from Emiko Mizusawa to tie at 1-1, P-P couldn’t be fazed. The Sagehens responded with five consecutive goals, and goalie Ahsha Earwood PZ ’17 held the Panthers scoreless for the rest of the quarter to put P-P ahead 6-1.
“We had a lot of communication wins,” Earwood said. “Especially in the first half, we were doing really well at seeing each other, and building off of each other.”
P-P continued its impressive run in the second quarter with two additional goals from Nohea Kahaulelio PZ ’19 and Kyla Pickell PZ ’19. The Sagehens held a comfortable lead at 8-2 to finish the half, and kept the Panthers’ scoring low thanks to four saves from Earwood and excellent defense from Chessa Burke PZ ’17.
Burke and Janelle Lewis PO ’19 added two more goals for the Sagehens, and goalie Morgan Stockham PZ ’18 took to the net in the second half. Though Chapman scored four goals, P-P pulled out a 10-6 final, sending seniors home happy in their final regular season game. One of P-P’s greatest strengths is their ability to distribute the ball offensively.
“We always try to win games as a team,” Rodriguez said. “I think it was a great team effort.”
Eight players scored throughout Saturday’s match, with two apiece for both Castro and Anna Yu PO ’19. Additionally, the Sagehens controlled the ball more effectively than Chapman and took twice as many shots as the Panthers at 32 to 16, respectively.
Castro also said that P-P’s team dynamic was a crucial part of their success.
“As the season went on, we started to find our cohesiveness and really play for each other…I think we really came together to do it for each other and learn that we all needed to contribute equally in order to win,” Castro said.
Seniors Earwood, Burke, Hope Grant PZ ’17, and Christina Williamson PO ’17 have brought unity to the young team both inside and outside the pool.
To prepare for the playoffs, P-P plans to continue bringing its team-oriented style of play to every game.
“In one person shining, there’s another girl that was behind her, that made her the awesome pass that enabled her to make a great shot,” said Earwood. “Everyone is a player on the team, and everyone needs to be contributing in that way.”
The Sagehens will face off against the University of Redlands Bulldogs (8-21, 3-5 SCIAC) in the SCIAC Tournament on Friday. A victory over Redlands, who earned the number seven seed, would put P-P in the semi-finals on Saturday, and a win on Saturday would place the Sagehens in the finals on Sunday. Rodriguez is both proud of and confident in his team as they head into the tournament.
“I would not trade this team for any team going into a tournament,” he said.