Leopards cannot stay afloat against No. 1 Sagehens

La Verne graduate student utility player Sumi Rudisky looks to make a pass in the offensive zone during the Leopards’ game against Pomona-Pitzer on March 27 at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The Leopards lost, 13-7, in their spring break matchup against the Sagehens. / photo by Jack Janes
La Verne graduate student utility player Sumi Rudisky looks to make a pass in the offensive zone during the Leopards’ game against Pomona-Pitzer on March 27 at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The Leopards lost, 13-7, in their spring break matchup against the Sagehens. / photo by Jack Janes

Sarah Van Buskirk
Editorial Director

The No. 3 La Verne women’s water polo team fell, 13-7, against the No. 1 Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens for the Leopards’ second Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss on March 27 at the Matt M. Axelrood Pool in Claremont.

“We were clearly tired and made a lot of mental mistakes,” head coach Pat Beemer said. “We recognized that they are really strong and we came in here trying to manage the goals against.”

The Sagehens led an evenly matched first quarter with two goals from junior utility player Kaylee Stigar and sophomore attacker Lauren Smith. La Verne’s junior center Olivia Taylor tallied the Leopards’ only goal of the quarter to make it 2-1.

Taylor controlled the middle of the Leopards’ offensive formation with four shots, four goals and a steal against the Sagehens.

“We shut them down several times, so I think we will take how we played this game and continue and then play even better against them next time, “ Taylor said. 

Doubling last quarter’s score, the Sagehens got after it quickly with a goal 30 seconds in from senior attacker Namlhun Jachung, assisted by Stigar. Following an exclusion on Leopards’ junior attacker Reiley Burton and a Sagehen time out, Jachung extended Pomona-Pitzer’s lead to 4-1 on a power play.

The Sagehens’ momentum did not stop as sophomore utility player Brienz Lang took advantage of the Leopards’ exhaustion to move the score to 5-1. A power play was permitted for Pomona-Pitzer after an exclusion on Leopards’ freshman center Reagan Barrera, as sophomore center Ayva Magna scored on a power play set up by sophomore attacker Mia Amberger to make it 6-1.

Taylor finally broke the silence for the Leopards with a power play goal after an exclusion on sophomore attacker Gabby Lewis, 6-2.

Junior goalkeeper Katrina Hitchcock sends the ball down the pool to generate some offense against Pomona-Pitzer on March 27 at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The offense was not enough as the Leopards lost to the Sagehens, 13-7. / photo by Jack Janes
Junior goalkeeper Katrina Hitchcock sends the ball down the pool to generate some offense against Pomona-Pitzer on March 27 at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The offense was not enough as the Leopards lost to the Sagehens, 13-7. / photo by Jack Janes

As the final seconds of the quarter ticked, Leopards graduate utility player Sumi Rudisky drilled a goal in, smacking the goalkeeper’s hand back into the goal to close the gap to 6-3.

Soon into the second half, Leopards sophomore attacker Brooklyn Young drew an exclusion and the Sagehens took advantage of their 6-on-5 opportunity with a goal from senior utility player Abigail Wiesenthal, 7-3.

On the offensive transition, Taylor skipped a goal in to trim the deficit but four Sagehens goals followed as the Leopards slowed, extending the Sagehens’ lead to 11-4.

“Some of our starters, including me, had multiple ejections so we did not play as much in the third quarter. But I think we just got tired because they have a lot more subs than us, going 6-for-6.” Burton said about the Sagehens’ offensive explosion in the third quarter. 

Young found her way back on top for a power play goal with the help of freshman defender Taylor Stute for the final point of the quarter, making it an 11-5 game.

A matched fourth quarter followed as the Sagehens scored on a power play by Smith and another by Amberger. For the Leopards, Burton scored on a five-meter penalty shot and Taylor capitalized on the power play for a final score of 13-7.

Leopards junior goalkeeper Katrina Hitchcock earned a lot of credit in this game as she made 10 crucial saves.

“It is really good to see them early and we played down one of our starting players,” Hitchcock said. “So it was good, we were able to hold on to them despite the rough third quarter but all and all I’m really proud of the girls and our performance overall.”

The Leopards had a tough 17-5 loss against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas on Wednesday night in Claremont to bring their SCIAC record to 5-3. 

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.

Jack Janes, a senior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine. He is also a staff photographer for both publications. He previously served as a Campus Times staff writer.

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