Leopards stop Panthers to stay unbeaten

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

The women’s water polo team is drowning the competition left-and-right, as it remains unbeaten in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Leopards defeated the Chapman Panthers, 14-9, Saturday at the La Verne Aquatics Center.

“It’s satisfying to beat a really good team like Chapman, and it is very satisfying to protect our home,” head coach William Rodriguez said. “I’m happy, but there’s still a lot of water polo to be played and we’re in the pursuit of water polo excellence, not excellent water polo.”

The team then splashed the Occidental Tigers out of the water 20-11 Wednesday at Taylor Pool.

La Verne is now 15-3 overall at 5-0 in SCIAC play.

In Saturday’s game against Chapman, La Verne and Chapman tied the game 2-2, midway through the first quarter.

La Verne sophomore center Jasmine Bustamante scored with an assist by junior utility player Stephanie Rosero to take a 3-2 lead heading into the second.

The game remained close, but the Leopards kicked it into high gear and went on a 4-0 run.

Senior center Catie Tuning scored two goals with the assist of Rosero, followed by a shot by senior attacker Lora Marquez-Salgado and Bustamante.

The Panthers managed to get another shot in, but trailed, 8-4.

Both teams each scored two goals in third, but La Verne remained on top, 10-6.

The Leopards got off to a hot start in the fourth, as Bustamante stole the ball and went one-on-one with Chapman sophomore goalkeeper Kerry Goodspeed and quickly converted it into a goal, but the Panthers answered right back, 11-7.

Bustamante finished the game with three goals.

Midway through the fourth, Tuning scored a goal with the assist of freshman attacker Guarina Garcia.

Tuning finished with a game-high four goals.

“It was great to have four goals and it’s always nice to have a good performance in a game,” Tuning said.

Garcia scored her own goal with the assist of Marquez-Salgado, while being guarded by two defenders.

Chapman scored two more goals in attempts to catch up, with less than two minutes left in the game, but La Verne was able to seal the deal with their defense, 14-9.

The win was not the only thing the team celebrated; it was also Garcia’s birthday.

“We did an amazing job, and it felt awesome to get a win on my birthday,” Garcia said.

In Wednesday’s game against the Tigers, both teams kept it close, with a two goal difference. Though the Leopards exploded for 11 goals in the second half and controlled the rest of the game.

Occidental never had a chance and La Verne took home the 20-11 win.

“Our team’s been great at learning how to communicate with each other and growing as a unit, but we’re going to keep ourselves focused on getting better and fine-tuning all aspects of our game.”

Rosero finished with eight goals, Garcia with seven, both career-highs for the duo.

The team hopes to keep the win streak going, and to make the postseason tournament.

“I look forward to winning SCIAC and bringing that ring to La Verne,” Garcia said.

The Leopards will splash back in at home against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu.

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