The Cal State Northridge women’s water polo team battled in some rough water over the weekend as it competed in the UC Irvine Invitational, a tournament that included 16 nationally ranked teams, all of which were ranked higher than the Matadors at No. 17.
CSUN was able to pull off one upset, against No. 13, UC Santa Barbara, winning the game 8-7. That upset may have helped raise the Matadors ranking to 14th, matching their highest rank ever.
“We’re ranked 14th and we’ve never been ranked higher than that,” said head coach Molly Barnes. “We’re excited to be there.”
That was the Matadors only win for the weekend, however, as they lost to top-ranked UCLA 12-4, No. 8 Arizona State 12-4, and No. 15 University of Michigan 6-5.
“We had a tough outing on Saturday,” Barnes said. “We played without Chelsea Curran and it really affected our game.”
For the weekend, seniors Allison Brookes and Dayna Van Gorder led the offensive attack with five goals each. Sophomores Kirra Kylander and Renee Gargiulo each scored three goals for the tournament and sophomore Kristin McLaughlin scored two. Juniors Erica Waltemade, Jessica Coy and Tara McGinley each tallied one goal for the weekend. Sophomore goalie Jillian Stapf made 27 saves.
The Matadors started the tournament with a rematch against top-ranked UCLA. This time the match wasn’t quite as close, despite 14 saves by Stapf. UCLA’s Katie Rulon led all scorers with four goals, while fellow Bruins Brittany Rowe and Courtney Matthewson scored two. For CSUN, Van Gorder had two goals for the match. Bruin goalkeeper Brittany Fullen made six saves.
CSUN moved to the consolation bracket for its second game of the day, against Arizona State. The result was the same, however, with the Matadors losing 12-4.
For the Sun Devils, Addison McGrath and Kelly Phelps both scored four goals in the game, while Nikki Unbeaun scored three and Candice Phillippe scored one. ASU goalie Caylinn Wallace made nine saves and Kaitlyn Morris saved three.
For the Matadors, McLaughlin, Kylander, Van Gorder and Waltemade each scored one goal. Stapf made seven saves.
“We played our worst game of the year against ASU,” Barnes said. “Their goalie blocked everything.”
CSUN started Sunday off right, beating UC Santa Barbara 8-7. The Matadors lead the entire match, fueled by goals from six different players. Gargiulo and Van Gorder each scored two, while Brookes, McLaughlin, Coy and Kylander each scored one. Stapf saved six goals in the match.
“We had people step up,” Barnes said. “Renee (Gargiulo) got us two really good goals.”
Curran, who hurt her shoulder, was able to play on Sunday, Barnes said.
“Chelsea played on Sunday and that changed everything. The team had more confidence. She makes a big difference,” Barnes said.
The Gauchos got four goals from Gillian Morgan and one goal each from Claire Buchanan, Christie Clark and Amanda Tipton. Santa Barbara’s goalie, Jenny Gonzales made five saves.
For the final match of the tournament, CSUN played with Michigan, but couldn’t catch up and lost 6-5.
Brookes scored four goals and Tara McGinley scored one.
“Against Michigan we did everything we needed to do,” Barnes said. “The effort was there, its just our shooting was off.”
For the Wolverines, Sharayah Hernandez scored three, while Leah Robertson, Mary Chatigny and Alison Mantel each scored one.
It won’t get any easier for the Matadors, as they head out to USC to play the third-ranked Trojans on Saturday at noon.