It has been a winning two weeks for the women’s water polo team.
The Leopards took down the Chapman Panthers, 15-11, in their final stretch of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games March 30 at the La Verne Aquatic Center.
That same day, the Leopards also strolled past Occidental in a high-scoring 17-9 win. The following games, the Leopards went on the road to Redlands on Saturday to face-off against the Bulldogs, beating them, 15-9. On the road they handed another loss to the Caltech Beavers in a 15-5 win Wednesday.
“We’re right in the mix of it right now with our conference. We are in control of our own destiny,” Leopards head coach Pat Beemer said. “Chapman’s always a wild card in our conference. We had the confidence that we have the depth to handle them. Early on we were able to control the pace of the game.”
The first period started against Chapman and the Leopards were on the board first. Junior center Nancy Trinh made it into the cage off two consecutive passes but Chapman quickly answered back and scored.
The Leopards did not lose their momentum after a failed drive toward the cage and passed it over the Panthers, allowing utility player Abby Nunez to score a goal. The Panthers again answered back but the Leopards had already started letting their offensive flow run, they scored three goals all back-to-back.
Heading into the second quarter, the Leopards had a two-point lead and the momentum on their side. Nunez started off the quarter with another goal, widening the gap for the Panthers to come back.
Senior attacker Sumi Rudisky got her first points of the game in the second period. She ended the game with three goals on seven shots, and one assist.
“I think we did pretty well overall as a team, we had a few mishaps but pulled together really well,” Rudisky said. “The Whittier game I believe was the turning point for not only me but also the team. It gives us confidence that we have the ability to be competitive against the top teams in our league.”
In the second half the Leopards repeated the start of their first half as Trinh scored the first goal, quickly giving them more control of the game. The third quarter was exactly like the first quarter as the Leopards scored five goals and the Panthers were kept to three goals this period.
The Leopards went into the fourth period with a comfortable five point lead but the Panthers scored back-to-back goals at the beginning of the quarter. The effort was not enough against the Leopards as they tacked on two more goals in the final quarter.
“We are a very strong team and we have the ability to execute, we have the ability to beat the other schools in our league,” Rudisky said. “I think we can do it. It’s just about putting in the hard work and grinding it out these next few weeks.”
The Leopards have three games remaining in their season with high hopes of making it to the postseason. They are currently 6-5 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They next face off against Cal Lutheran in a home game at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Eric Esquibel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.