Matadors open at home with a doubleheader

Monique Muñiz

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CSUN junior Sydney Sonoda, seen here attempting to recover possession for the Matadors, says CSUN (15-5) has “a lot of chemistry.” After starting the season with 20 consecutive road games, the Matadors finally get to play in their own pool today. Wagner and Occidental College will be their rivals in the doubleheader. (Courtesy of CSUN media athletics)

The No. 10 CSUN women’s water polo team (15-5) has been itching to put on a show for its home crowd after starting the season on a 20-game road stand. The Matadors, who are on a four-game winning streak, will host Wagner and Occidental College in a doubleheader today at Matador pool.

“We are all excited and we are comfortable playing in our own pool,” CSUN   utility player Sydney Sonoda said.

CSUN head coach Marcelo Leonardi feels relieved to be playing at home.

“It gives us a chance to represent our home pool,” Leonardi said. “It feels nice to finally play a home game and in front of our home crowd.”

Leonardi expects the same play and consistency from his players that he has seen from the start of the season, and with the No. 1 defense in the Big West Conference, the Matadors know what they have to do to keep winning.

“Our defense is great. If our offense can’t score, we always have our defense,”  Sonoda said “(Goalkepper) Jill (Stapf) is great in the cage with making stops when we need them.”
The team defense has been solid, and that has helped Stapf, who is one of the top goalies in the conference with 129 saves.

“I love playing, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t have the defense I do in front of me,” Stapf said.

The Matadors have four players in double figures in steals, with Kristin McLaughlin leading the team with 19.

In the last five games, CSUN has allowed 23 goals, while its offense has scored 53.

“When we get stops, it translates into our offense,” Sonoda said.

Wagner (7-8) is on a two-game winning streak. Its last game was a 15-12 win over Whittier College.  Wagner also finished 3-1 at the Cal Lutheran Invitational.

The Seahawks have Chelsea Beck, who has 14 goals and ten assists, and Laura Vanderbent, who has 14 goals and six assists this season. In the net, the Seahawks have Kelsey Rodgers with 141 saves.

Occidental College has had a rough season and comes in with a 1-9 record. OC has allowed 127 goals in the ten games while only scoring 79.

“We have a lot of chemistry and players that have gained more experience this past year,” Stapf said. “I think it’s only going to get better.”

CSUN will play Wagner at 2 p.m. and Occidental at 6 p.m.