Third-Ranked P-P Water Polo Earns Victories Over Oxy, Cal State East Bay

With hard-fought wins over Occidental (13-9, 4-1 SCIAC) and CSU East Bay (14-12) on Apr. 11, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team (17-7, SCIAC 4-1) extended their winning streak to five games. The Sagehens, ranked third nationally, started their day with an upset of the top-ranked Occidental by a score of 11-8. P-P carried their momentum into their next game against number six CSU East Bay, winning by a tight 13-11.

In the game against Occidental, the Sagehens were led by the three-pronged offensive attack of Nikki Ruesch PI ’09, who led the Sagehen offense with four goals. Tamara Perea PI ‘11 and Sarah Woods PO ’10 each added a hat trick. Goalie Dana Kingman PI ‘11 anchored the Sagehen defense with eight saves.

P-P’s success lay in their ability to regain their defensive edge even after suffering setbacks. At three junctures in the game the Sagehens led by three goals, and each time Occidental was able to reduce their deficit to only one goal. The Sagehen defense quickly rebounded, however, and suffocated any further attempts to bridge the point-gap between the teams.

“It was a very good game,” commented Kingman. “Our defense was excellent.”

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Sagehens crushed their opponent’s hopes of making a lasting comeback. The attacking trio of Ruesch, Perea, and Woods proved to be too much handle for Oxy’s defense, as they combined to score a total of four goals in this final quarter to lift the Sagehen’s to their first win of the day.

Playing Oxy was P-P’s first game since dropping from first to third in the national D-III rankings. This win, in addition to being another victory for the Sagehen’s conference record, is also a step toward regaining their spot at the top of the division.

Against CSU East Bay, the Sagehens started off by scoring the first four goals of the game. They were able control the pace of the match, and spent the first three quarters leading the score by three or four goals.

In this match, it was Perea who spearheaded the offense with a team-high four goals. Ruesch followed closely with a hat trick. Perea and Ruesch each finished the weekend with seven goals. Woods once again came out strong, scoring a double. First-year Perri Hopkins PI ’12 also stepped up and netted twice.

Late in the fourth quarter, CSU shrunk the gap that the Sagehens had built up until that point. Still, the Sagehen defense remained strong and held the opposition at bay. For the second time that day, Kingman recorded eight saves, bringing her total number of saves to 16.

Despite her impressive performance, Kingman remained modest.

“While I feel that I played well, there are a number of things that I can and am trying to improve,” she said. “I use every game as an opportunity to make myself a better goalie.

Although the Sagehens looked like they were slipping in the very final minutes, CSU was unable to tie the game, and the Sagehens walked away with a victory.

“The Sagehens played great defense,” said head coach Alex Rodriguez. “We were able to get the counterattack going against CSU.”

On Saturday the Sagehens are scheduled to host Redlands at 11 a.m. It will be P-P’s last home game of the season, one which may play a key role determining the Sagehen’s final standing in the conference.

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