The women’s water polo team could not keep up with Pomona-Pitzer offensively, falling to the Sagehens, 15-5, Saturday at Haldeman Pool.
The Leopards started off strong, but their rhythm slowly faded and they could not press to win.
“Pomona came in as a top ranked team and to be able to compete against them at their level was an honor and they deserved the win, but I definitely thought we could’ve came out on top,” head coach William Rodriguez said.
Pomona-Pitzer got on the board first, as senior attacker Alyssa Woodward scored past La Verne freshman goalkeeper Hailey Westwood, 1-0.
La Verne answered right back on a 6-on-5 opportunity, when junior center Catie Tuning scored with the assist of junior utility Emily Randall.
“We may have missed quite a few of our 6-on-5 opportunities, which was tough and definitely hurt our overall outcome,” Tuning said. “However, it’s always a process and we just have to focus on cleaner passes and getting the ball where we need it to go.
Midway through the first, the Sagehens managed to take the lead, 2-1, but the Leopards found a way to tie it once again.
Tuning found sophomore center Megan Little, as she scored to tie the game at two.
Before the quarter came to an end, Pomona-Pitzer scored one last time.
“I felt like the first quarter was the best water polo we have played as a team this season,” senior defender Jacqueline Rojas said. “Once we kept getting scored on from turnovers the pace of the game fell into Pomona’s lap. Our attitude needs to change when that happens. We have to keep fighting with the same intensity and urgency like the score is 0-0 the whole game.”
Senior attacker Chrissie Alving-Trinh found Woodward in the right corner, taking a 3-2 lead, heading into the second quarter.
In the second, the Leopards managed to hold the Sagehens off, but at the same time were not able to score offensively.
With 1:46 left to play in the half and the both teams with no score change, Pomona-Pitzer found a way past the La Verne defense and scored.
Senior attacked Sarah Westcott assisted senior center Mahalia Prater-Fahey, 4-2, Sagehens.
The Sagehens managed to score one more time before the half, as they took a 5-2 lead.
“In the second quarter losing Maddie through tons of fouls kind of set us back because she was really strong in the post,” Rodriguez said. “But even then, we had to still play deep and work on our counterattacks and hold them off.”
Bad passes continued to be a problem for La Verne, as Pomona-Pitzer took advantage of those opportunities using them to score.
“Turnovers really killed us that game. We need to protect the ball more when teams run a hard press defense. Movement is important and that comes hand in hand with mentality and communication,” Rojas said.
Midway through the third, Pomona-Pitzer was up, 7-2, after Westcott found an open spot in the goal.
Senior defender Sarah Jefferis attempted a shot, but was blocked by sophomore goalkeeper Ahsha Earwood.
Little found an opportunity with the rebound and quickly scored, cutting the lead to four.
With less than two minutes to play, the Sagehens managed to score three more times, 10-3.
To start the fourth, the Leopards had a 6-on-5 opportunity to score, 10-4, as they still trailed by six.
Pomona-Pitzer found an opportunity to score right back, 11-4.
Then La Verne did the same, as Jefferis assisted Rojas, 11-5.
This was the last time the Leopards would score, as the Sagehens found their offensive rhythm. On a fast break with 3:31 left in the game, Woodward scored, 12-5.
La Verne could not keep up defensively, as Pomona-Pitzer scored three more to end the game, 15-5.
“Our team performance is steadily improving, which is all we can hope for as the season continues,” Tuning said.
The team also faced the Redlands Bulldogs Wednesday.
“Our next game against Redlands was very important because it was an opportunity for us to bounce back and prove that the La Verne Leopards aren’t done fighting,” Rojas said.
The Leopards again started off strong, but fell, 14-13.
The team is now 3-4 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and 5-12 overall.
The Leopards will face the Whittier Poets Saturday at La Verne Aquatics for senior day and the last game of the season.
“I’m excited for the team and the seniors have worked hard all year so I hope to send them out on a good victory,” Rodriguez said.
Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.