The women’s water polo team faced a tough loss on senior day, after falling in overtime to Pomona-Pitzer Saturday at the La Verne Aquatics Center in Las Flores Park.
The Sagehens broke the Leopards’ undefeated win streak at home and in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with the 8-5 win.
“It was a tough loss, first of the conference and at home, but we’re looking to get better and learn from this loss,” head coach William Rodriguez said.
The Leopards hoped to come back, as they faced the Redlands Bulldogs for their last home game Wednesday at the La Verne Aquatics Center.
The team defeated the Bulldogs 12-7.
La Verne is now 16-4 overall and 6-1 in SCIAC play.
Prior to Saturday’s game, four seniors were honored for their senior day – two-meter defender Kendra New, utility Emily Randall, center Catie Tuning and attacker Lora Marquez-Salgado.
“I’m always happy for our seniors, and it’s nice they get to have a special time with their team and share it with their families,” Rodriguez said. “I’m happy they were recognized today.”
In the game against Pomona-Pitzer, both teams kept the game close, and at a low score.
“We came out a little slow,” junior attacker Ardelle Aquino said. “It was a tough game, we kept up, but I think as soon as they were scoring goals, we kind of lost our heart in it.”
The Sagehens got on the board first, but the Leopards quickly answered back, with a goal by junior center Megan Little to tie the game 1-1, midway through the first.
La Verne scored two goals in the second quarter.
Little scored a goal with the assist of Aquino midway through the second, to take a 2-1 lead.
“My performance was pretty good in the beginning, but I kind of caught up in the ejections,” Little said. “But again, I put it all out there, as best as I could.”
Freshman attacker Guarina Garcia extended the lead with a goal of her own with 1:10 on the clock, 3-1.
Pomona-Pitzer’s lone senior, defender Megan Snow, put in a floater shot with 23 seconds left in the second, to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Sagehens had a chance to tie the game before halftime, after the ball was stolen. However, Marquez-Salgado went one-on-one with freshman attacker Anna Yu to hold her from scoring.
Pomona-Pitzer came out splashing after halftime, and shut the Leopards out in third to take a 4-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
La Verne sophomore driver Candice Vorbeck managed to tie the game 4-4 early in the fourth.
With a 6-on-5 opportunity, the Leopards took advantage of that, and Marquez-Salgado quickly scored with the assist of Vorbeck for the 5-4 lead.
However, the Sagehens tied the game once again and forced overtime.
“We need to improve on communication,” Aquino said. “I got caught up on just focusing on my matchups, and not knowing what was going on behind me. So we just need to work on talking each other.”
Pomona-Pitzer shut out La Verne in overtime with three goals to take home the win.
“We fought till the end and gave it our all,” Little said. “Our defense is on point, and our offense needs to slow down a little, but again, we need to stay moving.”
In Wednesday’s game against the Bulldogs, the Leopards pounced on an early 4-1 lead heading into the second quarter.
Garcia and Little each scored consecutive goals to stay ahead.
Redlands managed to get within one, but La Verne kicked it up a notch with back-to-back goals by Tuning and Garcia.
The Leopards outscored the Bulldogs in the fourth and sealed the win.
“So far, it’s the best season in school history, that’s a fact,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve beaten four Division I teams, and we just have to bounce back.”
The team will wrap up the regular season against the Whittier Poets at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lillian Slade Aquatics Center.
Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at email@example.com.