Sarah Van Buskirk
The La Verne women’s water polo team ruptured their five-game win streak in an 18-11 loss against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas on Wednesday night at the Axelrood Aquatics Center.
The Leopards were pumped up before the game, chanting and cheering before diving into the water. This carried into the first quarter as there was an exciting and high energy buzzing in the air.
“The attitude of this team is always really positive, even if we were not executing,” head coach Pat Beemer said. “The kids were trying to pick each other up and that’s encouraging but it didn’t really reflect in the outcome.”
Beemer said there were 22 turnovers on ULV’s end and almost all of CMS’s goals came from the Leopards’ mistakes.
Early on, the Athenas made the first mark with a good five-meter penalty shot but the Leopards were quick on the reciprocation as senior utility player Kelly Riedel made a shot from a ways out with the shot clock winding down.
On the following play, the Athenas’ shot was no good and on the transition junior utility player Tamara Holstrom received the ball dead center of the goal and put the Leopards on top, 2-1.
“I think we started out very strong and we were all pumped and excited,” Holstrom said. “Then I think we got in our heads and started playing frantic and it was messy which caused a lot of turnovers which led to them scoring on our mistakes.”
CMS gained momentum and tallied two more goals with La Verne recording one more goal after impressive efforts from senior center Nancy Trinh, who collected a long pass for a breakaway moment and with a defender on her to dent the twine. The quarter ended with the Leopards trailing, 4-3.
La Verne seemed to have used all of their strength in the first quarter as they were shut out, 3-0, in the second quarter extending the Athenas’ lead to 7-3.
After a regroup in the locker room, the Leopards gained confidence and produced their best quarter of the game, racking in five goals coming from freshman utility player Maddie Grove, sophomore attacker Brianna Zapata, senior utility player Abby Nuñez, graduate student attacker Jassmine Kezman and Holstrom. However, the Athenas remained with the leg up and generated seven goals, broadening their lead to 14-8 going into the final quarter.
“We were playing very frantically and not ourselves,” Kezman said. “I think since it’s going toward the end of the season that we got jitters still from being the top third seed and we have never been that high before so there is always improvement. We can work on our composure.”
The fourth quarter opened up and the Leopards were eager to take the reins of the game. They executed three goals within the first four minutes of the quarter and only allowed one of the Athenas’ opportunities to count. With the score then 15-11, there was a possibility for La Verne to make a comeback. Nevertheless, that was not the case and the Leopards went quiet the rest of the game, creating no offensive carryouts.
The Athenas used the Leopards’ lack of competition to ring in three more goals for a final score of 18-11.
“If there was a way to come into a game too pumped up I feel like we came a little too pumped up, just very sporadic and frantic and all over the place,” Zapata said. “I think we knew we had a close game with them before (an 11-10 loss on March 8). We knew we probably should have won it so I think we came in a little too fast and lost sight of who we are and how we play.”
La Verne is now 5-4 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play and 9-13 overall.
The Leopards will try to climb up the standings out of the No. 4 seed as they take on the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens tomorrow morning at the La Verne Aquatics Center as the seniors on the team will be recognized in the last home game of the regular season.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at email@example.com.