Sarah Van Buskirk
The women’s water polo team could not match the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens’ speed in a 14-9 loss Sunday evening at the La Verne Aquatic Center.
The Leopards now stand 2-2 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play while the Sagehens remain in the No. 1 seed in the division.
The initial sprint was won by the Sagehens but the Leopards got on the board first. After a power play and having man up, senior attacker Jassmine Kezman put the ball in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“We have a really talented team,” Kezman said. “It’s just a reminder that this is our 12th game into the season and this was Pomona-Pitzer’s 24th game, so we have a lot of time and work to be done.”
Back-and-forth play continued for a majority of the quarter but by the final two minutes the Sagehens had put away three goals.
With just a few seconds left on the clock, attacker Dani D’Andrea received a pass from utility player Abby Nunez and got the ball past the Sagehens’ goalie.
Moving into the second quarter, the Leopards were down 3-2.
“We went into this game to test the waters because we haven’t played that many people in our conference and don’t really know where we stand,” D’Andrea said. “We ended up playing better than expected and really came together.”
Right off the line, the Sagehens went in for the shot but goalie Kate Carlyle knocked it down, saving the Leopards from a larger deficit.
However, junior center Nancy Trinh drew an exclusion and the Sagehens were given a five meter penalty shot that was good. They extended their lead to 4-2.
Trinh came back for redemption when the Leopards were given a 6-on-5 opportunity. The ball was passed around the Sagehens’ defense and senior defensive attacker Sumi Rudisky set up Trinh to drill it in the goal.
“We had some good counter attack opportunities where we were up a player,” Rudisky said. “Overall we were attacking their team really well.”
The Leopards’ defense then started to pull away, allowing the Sagehens to fire two more goals into the cage. It was not until the final two minutes of the half that Nunez assisted Kezman for a power play goal, but immediately after Pomona-Pitzer had a successful power play, which made the score 7-4.
Both teams got a final point on the board before they headed into the locker room. By halftime the Sagehens led, 8-5.
The third quarter was quiet for the Leopards as they only put one point on the board after Kezman scored on a power play in the final minutes. The Sagehens racked in two more goals as well and they entered the final quarter of the game with a score of 10-6.
Minutes into the fourth quarter the Sagehens received a power play and acted on their man-up opportunity, pushing their lead to 11-6.
At the halfway mark of the quarter, the Leopards drew an exclusion and Kezman skipped the ball past the goalie and tightened up their deficit. Shortly after, Kezman reached the back of the net once again and the Leopards began catching up, 11-8.
The Leopards had less than three minutes left in the game to achieve a three point comeback to at least tie. However, the Sagehens’ quickness left the Leopards far behind as they put in three straight goals, leading 14-8.
With 30 seconds left, D’Andrea snuck one behind the goalie and the buzzer rang with a final score of 14-9.
“We could have tried a little harder to finish our possessions offensively but I think we came out with some good intensity and we have a lot to build on,” sophomore center Nanea Mattson said.
The Leopards hosted the Bucknell Bison Wednesday afternoon in a close 11-10 defeat. They will continue to practice as they take on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 11 a.m. Saturday at the La Verne Aquatic Center.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at email@example.com.