The Leopards offense sets up with the score at 8-8 when freshman driver Kelsey Broyles on a powerful drive nets the final goal of the game clinching the Leopards a 9-8 win against the Whittier Poets on Saturday at Las Flores Park.
This gave the Leopards their first conference win this season.
“We were all pumped, ready to win,” junior utility Alex Gudeneau said. “We had some good motivational speeches on Thursday, a little pump up session.”
The Leopards started slow in the first quarter, down by three against the Poets until senior two-meter Erika Vargas broke the Poets’ scoring streak with a goal.
During the second quarter the Leopards started their march to the top by adding another point to the scoreboard bringing the game to 3-2, but the Poets’ offense responded with another goal.
The Leopard’s offense rallied back with three goals giving the Leopards their first lead in the game.
This game marked the return of injured players sophomore driver Bethie Ross and freshman driver Maddie Lovrensky, allowing the Leopards to play at full strength as a team.
“We finally took everything we had and put it together,” Ross said. “One person didn’t just shine during that game it was like a team effort everybody had their moments, everyone was passing, we were like on the same connection.”
After battling back and forth in the final minutes of the half Lovrensky drove near the goal, set up her shot and scored, giving the Leopards a 6-5 advantage going into the second half of the game.
After the break, the momentum gained in the first half by the Leopards was kept up their offense, drawing in ejections from the Poets’ defense giving the Leopards opportunities to match each goal the Poets’ managed to get in.
By the fourth quarter the Leopards were up 8-7. Minutes into the fourth, the Poets’ scored, tying the game.
The Leopards earned the win in the final minutes with Broyles goal.
“We’ve been on a eight or nine game losing streak,” head coach Alex La said. “For them to come back and step up like this is huge especially being down in the first.”
The game showed confidence in each player and trust as a team.
“We’ve had a lot of games where we could of won, should of won, “ senior utility Ashley Forsberg said. “And today we just really showed the heart and desire that we had been lacking.”
The Poets are currently ranked No. 6 in a CWPA poll, while the Leopards are ranked No. 8.
“I feel that we’ve come such a long way,” senior attacker Brittany Orduno said. “It’s really time that we freaking got time in the spotlight and show people what we’re really made of, we can win and we’re gonna do this.”
The Leopards lost in overtime Wednesday, 9-6, to Pomona-Pitzer, who is currently ranked No.1 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association poll.
The Leopards currently hold the seventh spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Leopards will take on Occidental at Las Flores Park Saturday at 11 a.m.
Karo Chakhlasyan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.