Water polo drops last home game

Junior attacker Maya Garcia-Hale makes a pass in the offensive zone in the Leopards’ matchup against the Cal Lutheran Regals on Saturday. La Verne lost the game, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes
Junior attacker Maya Garcia-Hale makes a pass in the offensive zone in the Leopards’ matchup against the Cal Lutheran Regals on Saturday. La Verne lost the game, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes

Sarah Van Buskirk
Editorial Director

In their final home game of the season, the women’s water polo team lost, 16-6, against the Cal Lutheran Regals on Saturday afternoon at the Matt M. Axelrood Pool in Claremont.

The Leopards repeated the score later Saturday night after they lost to the Concordia Golden Eagles, 16-6, from earlier exhaustion. 

Head coach Pat Beemer said the team practiced a ton of shooting before facing the Regals but nerves must have gotten in the way of the team’s offense.

“We were rattling the bar and seeing a lot of unlucky but we had all these opportunities we just needed to finish,” Beemer said. “It never got better, in fact it got worse, we went from hitting the bar to hitting the goalie.”

Junior attacker Maya Garcia-Hale and junior goalkeeper Katrina Hitchcock prepare to block a shot against Cal Lutheran on Saturday at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. Despite their efforts, the Leopards lost, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes
Junior attacker Maya Garcia-Hale and junior goalkeeper Katrina Hitchcock prepare to block a shot against Cal Lutheran on Saturday at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. Despite their efforts, the Leopards lost, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes

La Verne held a steady first half but could not stop the Golden Eagles’ impressive offensive transition from players like senior attacker Katie Knight, who scored six goals, and senior attacker Jacsen Donohue, who scored four goals. 

Donohue quickly opened the scoring within the first 30 seconds to give Cal Lutheran an early advantage. 

On the following play, junior center Olivia Taylor’s shot hit the post but junior attacker Reiley Burton was there to clean up and tally La Verne’s first point. 

“I think we got intimidated by the score and focused on it too much,” Burton said. “It takes a lot of energy to come back from three or four goals and I just don’t think we had that today.”

Knight found a sweet spot and scored back-to-back goals to extend their lead until Burton came to cut the deficit with her goal. However, graduate student attacker Bethany Metcalfe found the cage with less than a minute left in the first quarter to push the Regals’ lead to 4-2 going into the second quarter. 

In an even second quarter, the goals happened early as sophomore attacker Miranda Miller fired into the cage, 5-2. Donohue drew an exclusion and the Leopards gained the power play and Taylor saw that advantage to score. 5-3.

Cal Lutheran retaliated with a goal followed by Metcalfe and no scoring persisted for the rest of the quarter until Burton dented the twine with 30 seconds left, 6-4. 

A second half comeback for the Leopards was the plan especially being in such a close game however, the Regals’ high press and aggressive offense took over and scored 10 more goals divided upon two quarters.

Graduate student utility player Sumi Rudiski ensures control of the ball before passing to her teammates in the Leopards’ game against Cal Lutheran on Saturday at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The Leopards lost the game, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes
Graduate student utility player Sumi Rudiski ensures control of the ball before passing to her teammates in the Leopards’ game against Cal Lutheran on Saturday at Axelrood Aquatics Center in Claremont. The Leopards lost the game, 16-6. / photo by Jack Janes

The Leopards only had two more successful shot attempts by Taylor in the third quarter and graduate student utility player Sumi Rudisky in the fourth quarter for a final score of 16-6.

“I think our energy dropped and they were able to capitalize on that,” Rudisky said. “I know I was guilty of getting in my head.”

Junior goalkeeper Kelly Jackson said she could not have played a better game and acknowledged the Regals’ good shots and placements just outside her reach.

“We kept pushing till the end and we never gave up, which I appreciate that,” Jackson said. “I appreciate these girls for always having my back and keeping the energy up and staying motivated especially with such a big gap early on.”

On Wednesday the Leopards won in a second overtime period, 13-12, in Los Angeles against the Occidental Tigers.
Saturday, the Leopards will travel to Whittier to face the Poets for the final game of the season at 11 a.m.

La Verne’s overall record now stands at 6-14 with a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record of 5-5.

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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