The CSUN women’s water polo team came very close to upsetting #5 UC Irvine, but were outscored 4-1 in the fourth quarter and lost 9-6 in the first game of a mini tournament hosted by Northridge at the Matador Pool on Saturday. CSUN came back to win a non-conference game against Bucknell 13-8 later in the day.
“The first half was the best water polo we’ve played all year,” CSUN head coach Molly Barnes said. “We came out, took it to them and played as good as we needed to play to beat them. And then, we fell apart.”
Defensively, the team stopped being aggressive and didn’t do a good job of challenging their shots, Barnes said.
“We pretty much let them shoot freely from the outside and they’re good shooters. If you don’t challenge their shots, they’re going to make you pay and that’s what happened,” said Barnes.
Irvine’s head coach Dan Klatt said CSUN did a better job in the front court and wasn’t surprised at how well the Matadors played.
“They just came out way better in the front court situation and were ready for that phase of the game,” Klatt said. “They have good players, good shooters and good two-meter play, so I’m not surprised.”
Junior Christine Cruz and freshman Chelsea Curran led the Matadors in scoring with two goals each. Curran scored CSUN’s only goal in the fourth quarter, taking a quick shot after an ejection.
“I wanted our team to get another goal so bad,” said Curran. “I was just working as hard as I could and trying to get attention drawn to the position because I knew we would get a call if I yelled out because the ref wasn’t really paying attention to my position.”
Junior Dayna Van Gorder and junior Allison Brookes also scored one goal each, while freshman Jillian Stapf made 10 saves in the goal.
Irvine’s sophomore Julia Fancher led all scorers with four goals. Senior Jackie Prine, and sophomore Gianna Rossi had two goals each, while senior Robyn Kaake had one goal. Junior goalkeeper Lauren Machanis had eight saves for the Anteaters.
Curran scored the first goal of the game at 6:09 in the first quarter. The Anteaters tied the score on a goal by Prine at 4:55. Cruz scored with 5 seconds left in the first period to give the Matadors a 2-1 lead.
Brookes scored at 6:12 in the second and Cruz scored her second at 2:30 to give CSUN a 4-1 lead. Irvine’s Prine scored with 3 seconds left to put the score at 4-2 at halftime.
The Anteaters scored quickly in the third quarter on a goal by sophomore Nikki Frish and Fancher tied the score 4-4 at 4:21. CSUN went ahead 5-4 on a goal by Van Gorder at 2:29 in the third period. Irvine tied the score at 5-5 with 17 seconds left in the third on a goal by Rossi.
Rossi scored again at 5:40 in the fourth to put the Anteaters ahead 6-5. Fancher scored three in a row, at 4:22, 2:53 and 2:21 to put Irvine ahead 9-5. CSUN scored the final goal on a shot by Curran with 31 seconds left for a final score of 9-6.
Brookes said the game was the best she has seen from CSUN in a couple of years and it was hard to lose after playing so well for three quarters.
“I’m really pleased with the first part of it – the first three quarters,” said Brookes. “I wish we could figure out how to finish a game better.”
CSUN did figure it out and finished better in their second game of the day, winning a tight non-conference match against Bucknell. The game was tied 7-7 after three periods, but the Matadors put it all together in the final quarter, outscoring the Bison 6-1 for the 13-8 win.
“I knew they would be very well-coached throughout the game and they would attack our strengths and they did,” Barnes said.
Defensive adjustments were made in the fourth quarter and that was probably a little too late, said Barnes. The offense stepped up in the forth quarter, but there were also several scoring opportunities that the Matadors didn’t put away, Barnes said.
Sophomore Jessica Coy tied her career high with four goals to lead all scorers. Freshman Kirra Kylander also had a career-high three goals in the game while Brookes scored two. Cruz, Van Gorder and sophomores Devin Sloan and Melissa Mendoza each scored one goal. Stapf made 15 saves in the goal.
For Bucknell, junior Jennifer Swoyer scored three goals and senior Elizabeth Jensen added two. Freshman Shana Palencia, junior Meagan Gins and freshman Valentina Rozas each scored one. Senior Mandy Bynum made seven saves in the goal.
Coy scored an early first goal on a penalty shot at 7:46 in the first quarter. Brookes scored at 6:32 to give CSUN a 2-0 lead. A penalty shot by Gins at 5:40 put the Bison within one at 2-1, but Coy came back and quickly scored at 5:15 to give CSUN a 3-1 lead. Bucknell scored at 4:58 on a shot by Rozas to put the score at 3-2.
In the second quarter, Swoyer tied the game 3-3 with her goal at 6:10. CSUN came back with a goal by Brookes at 5:21, but Swoyer quickly tied the game again, scoring at 5:07 to put the score at 4-4. Jensen gave the Bison a 5-4 lead with her goal at 4:19. The lead didn’t last long as Kylander tied the score at 5-5 with her goal at 3:50. Swoyer scored her third goal in the second quarter at 2:11, again putting Bucknell ahead 6-5.
Sloan tied the game at 7:35 in the third and Cruz gave the Matadors the 7-6 lead at 5:42. Jensen tied the score for the last time at 7-7 with 45 seconds left in the third.
The Matadors gained a 9-7 lead after a goal by Coy at 5:39 and a goal by Brookes at 4:41. Bucknell’s Palencia scored at 3:33 to get the Bison within one at 9-8, but CSUN put the game away with four unanswered goals in less than three minutes. Kylander scored at 2:51, Coy at 1:40, Kylander at 54 seconds and Mendoza capped it with 5 seconds left.
“What happened today is kind of a coach’s dream,” Barnes said. “We had a game where we had a tie going into the forth and we collapsed and lost big. And, then we had a game where we were tied in the forth and we stepped up and won big. To have that happen in the same day, you could see the growth in the team from one game to the next.”
Overall, CSUN is now 9-11 overall and 0-6 in conference play.
UC Irvine beat Bucknell 15-6 in their non-conference game at 1:00 pm at Matador Pool. The Anteaters were led by Robyn Kaake and Trudy Chancellor with three goals each. Kat Plummer, Jackie Prine and Nicole Flacco each scored two goals, while Jessica Lewis, Erin Kiene and Ashlyn Brown each contributed one goal to the win. Irvine’s freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Wilcox made five saves in the game and junior Lauren Machanis saved four.
For Bucknell, Shana Palencia and Meagan Gins each scored two goals. Mallory Sullivan scored one goal and freshman Alison Carter made five saves in the goal.