It only took three games for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team (10-1 SCIAC) to establish themselves as top national competitors in the SCIAC this past weekend, emerging as the 2017 SCIAC champions.
Heading into the tournament, the Sagehens were ready for anything.
“In the case of the tournament, Redlands was going to run a zone defense that we don’t see much of,” head coach Alexander Rodriguez wrote in an email to TSL. “La Verne was going to run a lot of isolation plays that we had to defend properly. Whittier was going to attack us one on one and we were going to have to play great one on one defense in that game.”
The weekend began Friday with the Sagehens' first match-up against the University of Redlands Bulldogs, which proved no challenge for the Sagehens. Both Christina Williamson PO ’17 and Nohea Kahaulelio PZ ’19 scored hat tricks, helping the team along to their 18-6 victory. Ten unanswered goals by P-P in the second half sealed the deal, and the Sagehens moved on to the semifinals.
They met La Verne on Saturday afternoon, and again the Sagehens dominated in the pool. Chessa Burke PZ ’17 rang in another hat trick for the team, her third of the season. A 4-0 run in the first quarter and another in the fourth quarter extended the lead, and the Sagehens sailed away with a 15-8 win and a spot in the championship game.
P-P closed out the weekend with a commanding 9-3 win against the Whitter College Poets on Sunday afternoon. The Sagehens led the entire match.
They started strong, with four goals in the first half to establish a lead going into the second half. Jocelyn Castro PZ ’18 was responsible for two, scoring them practically back to back with one at the end of the first quarter and another barely a minute into the second quarter. Bella Villa PZ ’20 also netted a goal, and Morgan McCracken PO ’18 scored the final goal of the first half. The Poets only managed to eke in one goal, making it 4-1 going into the second half of the championship game.
The fourth quarter is where the Sagehens really shone, with a goal by Kyla Pickell PZ ’19 three minutes in, followed by two goals by Natalie Hill PO ’19. P-P’s outstanding offense was accompanied by an equally strong defense, which smothered the Poets’ offense. Goalie Ahsha Earwood PZ ’17 clocked in eight saves during the game.
“When I realized that we had secured the championship, I was overwhelmed with excitement and on the verge of happy tears, as I was so proud of my team and our accomplishment,” Castro wrote in an email to TSL.
The team will get a break from games as the rest of the country plays their own conference tournaments, vying for spots in the NCAA Tournament.
“I am concerned with the long layoff. We have at least two weeks off before our play-in game,” Rodriguez wrote of preparing to play on the national stage. “If we are able to win that game, we would play in Indiana in three weeks. We think we have a great chance at winning the play-in game so we will prepare just like we did for SCIAC.”
The Sagehens will find out who their play-in opponent will be on Monday, but until then they will enjoy their victory and their first championship title since 2014.