Leopards divvy up ULV mini tournament, 1-1

La Verne senior goalkeeper Kate Carlyle looks for an open teammate after getting possession of the ball against Saint Francis on Tuesday at the La Verne Aquatic Center. The Leopards lost in a close game against the Red Flash, 15-14, in the rain. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook
La Verne senior goalkeeper Kate Carlyle looks for an open teammate after getting possession of the ball against Saint Francis on Tuesday at the La Verne Aquatic Center. The Leopards lost in a close game against the Red Flash, 15-14, in the rain. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Sarah Van Buskirk
Editor-in-Chief 

Amidst the Southern California storms, the La Verne women’s water polo team battled through the rain in a tough 15-14 loss against the Division I Saint Francis Red Flash for the first game of the ULV mini tournament Tuesday afternoon at the La Verne Aquatic Center at Las Flores Park. 

The Leopards were able to acclimate to the downpour and floated to the top for a 9-6 win in the second game against the visiting Macalester Scots.

“We started so slow in that game, we allowed 11 goals in the first half and then actually started playing and only allowed four goals in the second half,” head coach Pat Beemer said. “There were a lot of what if’s, like what if we started a little hotter.”

In the first quarter, the Leopards were struggling to adjust to the Red Flash’s aggressive man-to-man defense which prompted them to give up many turnovers and they struggled to get points on the board. Lots of back-and-forth swimming was lapped by both teams and with three minutes to go in the quarter the Leopards were down, 2-0.

To kick things off for La Verne, an exclusion on SFU initiated the powerplay and the Leopards were a man up. Sophomore attacker Amelia Wolfe set up a pass from the far end into the hands of freshman utility player Maddie Grove, who shot the ball past the defense and goalie’s arms, 2-1. 

About two minutes later, the Red Flash gained two more goals and held the Leopards to none. Not long after, graduate student attacker Jassmine Kezman broke the silence and fired one into the net on another powerplay opportunity, 4-2.

With the final minute of the quarter receding, SFU put up two more points and led, 6-2, heading into the second quarter. 

“Our beginning was pretty flat, we definitely started off a lot slower than anticipated which sometimes does happen with the weather,” graduate student utility player Halo Espinoza said. “But overall once we started getting into the flow of how everything was going we packed up our energy and started acting like a team.”

La Verne graduate attacker Halo Espinosa looks for the open pass on the attack on Saint Francis’ goal Tuesday at the La Verne Aquatic Center. The Leopards lost in a tight game, 15-14. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

To open the scoring flood gates, the Red Flash gained another point from a power play after Grove was excluded. In reciprocation, the Leopards followed up with their own 6-on-5 opportunity as Kezman scored which brought the score to 7-3.

Kezman has been dominating recently, contributing 11 shots, six goals and one steal against SFU alone. 

One of her goals was a five-meter penalty shot in the second quarter that pushed the score to 8-4.  

Two more goals for the Red Flash were recorded but Grove drove to the goal patiently and managed to put one into the cage. SFU remained in control and shortly after earned another point from a long shot to the top corner, however Kezman was right on it and added to the score, 11-5.

Right before halftime the Leopards gained a power play and after a good passing rotation, the ball ended in the hands of sophomore center Olivia Taylor who converted with a man up, 11-6.

In the third quarter Saint Francis made three goals and held La Verne to none for a majority of the quarter until senior center Nancy Trinh received a long pass and carried out a breakaway where she banked a shot in to make the score 14-8.

With less than 30 seconds to go, during a power play, Kezman propelled down the pool and passed to senior utility player Abby Nuñez, who made it in before the end of the quarter, 14-9.

The fourth quarter is where the Leopards made a comeback, out scoring the Red Flash 5-1. Crowd awing performances by Kezman, Trinh and Taylor put the Leopards in close quarters to the Red Flash.

La Verne women’s water polo head coach Pat Beemer calls a timeout to regroup the team in the pouring rain during the Leopards’ game against Saint Francis on Tuesday at the La Verne Aquatic Center. The game was close but the Red Flash beat the Leopards, 15-14. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Senior goalkeeper Kate Carlyle was applauded for her enormous efforts in the water dialing in on nine saves. 

“Toward the end I thought our communication was going really well, especially on defense, just communicating where we needed to go,” Carlyle said. 

Though for the Leopards’ late resurgence it was just not quite early enough and La Verne was taken under for the close 15-14 loss. 

Trinh said the two key words this season are accountability and positivity. 

“We are very competitive which is a really great trait to have especially playing in a sport like this but we are so competitive that when a mistake happens we get down on ourselves,” Trinh said. “So really practicing positivity and accountability early on in the game so it is not a second half comeback and we are playing hard all quarters.”

La Verne took on the Redlands Bulldogs on Wednesday in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup and lost, 9-6, after being shut out in the fourth quarter. This brings their SCIAC record to 0-2 and 3-11 overall.

The Leopards will carry over SCIAC play into the weekend as they host the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen at 11 a.m. Saturday before embarking on three away games starting  at 7 p.m. March 22 against Pomona-Pitzer.

Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at sarah.vanbuskirk@laverne.edu.

Sarah Van Buskirk is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. She is the Spring 2024 editorial director for the Campus Times and has recently served as editor-in-chief, sports editor and staff writer. She is also currently a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine, and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine.

Sheridan Lambrook, a senior journalism major with a concentration in visual journalism, is photography editor and a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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