The women’s water polo team came out of a close victory, as it defeated the Cal Lutheran Regals, 5-4, Saturday at the La Verne Aquatics Center.
This is the team’s first win against the Regals since 2006.
The team is now 4-9 overall and 2-1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I’m extremely happy with the win, it’s good to get wins at home especially as our first conference win and we’re looking to add more to those,” head coach William Rodriguez said.
The Leopards’ defense started off strong, as it prevented the Regals from getting on the board first.
With 5:40 on the clock, junior utility Emily Randall assisted sophomore center Megan Little to put La Verne on the board, 1-0.
The Regals answered back with a 6-on-5 opportunity, as senior center Jordan Card scored past freshman goalkeeper Hailey Westwood.
“We’ve struggled so far on our 6-on-5 conversions and I think if we could fix it, we’ll be beating teams and be a little more comfortable,” Rodriguez said. “It’s still a work in progress and we look to get better.”
A minute left in the first, junior two-meter defender Kendrea New attempted a shot, but was blocked.
Junior attacker Lora Marquez-Salgado found the opportunity to get the rebound to take a 2-1 lead, heading into the second.
Both teams continued to battle it out in the pool, but had many missed shot opportunities.
“We had eight ejections and we scored on none of those, so I mean we could have done a lot better than we did,” Marquez-Salgado said,
“I’m glad that we got the win, but we still have a lot to work on,” she said.
With less than two minutes left in the first half, La Verne junior center Catie Tuning found an opening to take a 3-2 lead over the Regals, with an assist by senior utility Jacqueline Rojas.
La Verne headed into the third with a two-point lead, 4-2 over Cal Lutheran and hoped to keep the momentum going strong.
Constant turnovers by both teams cost them shot opportunities, but the Leopards used it as firepower.
Senior defender Sarah Jefferis and Rojas passed the ball back-and-forth until Jefferis found an opening in the left side of the net and shot the ball, 5-2.
Westwood continued to block shots made by Cal Lutheran, as the Leopards managed to hold off the Regals in the third, not allowing them to score, taking a three-point lead heading into the fourth.
“I think the team did great and personally, I like to try to block every ball that comes my way, but I think I could have done much better,” Westwood said.
She had a total of 10 saves.
To start the fourth, Cal Lutheran had two 6-on-5 opportunities, in which would allow them to execute a power play, but were unsuccessful.
Midway through the fourth, another 6-on-5 opportunity for the Regals allowed Card to get past the defenders and score to cut the deficit to two, 5-3.
The Regals kicked the momentum up and were able to score another shot, midway through the fourth, 5-4.
“We did really good on defense, like blocking their 6-on-5 plays, but at the same time I felt that we should’ve put some of our conversions in when we had the chance,” Westwood said.
The Leopards stayed focused defensively and were able to hold Cal Lutheran, resulting in a win.
“Definitely hope to try end on a high note and it’s still my first season here and the team is still getting to know me so we still have things to build,” Rodriguez said.
The team will face the Chapman Panthers at 11 a.m. Saturday at Axelrood Pool.
Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.