In their most physical game this season the Matador water polo team defeated their rival Long Beach State 11-4 in the first Big West Conference game of the season at Matador pool Saturday afternoon.
“It was definitely a physical game, but we expected it,” defender Heidi Pettinger said. “Every year we play them the dirtier (the game gets). We just had to remember to slow down the game and keep our tempo and just score.”
The game had many whistle and players being placed on the sidelines by ejections, but that didn’t slow down the physical play.
“We were all prepared for (the physical play),” said two-meter Chelsea Curran, who got elbowed in the face by a 49er player, “We just knew to watch our heads and watch out for each other.”
Even with a few Matadors getting hit in the face, they knew what they had to do in order to win the game.
“It is water polo and stuff like that happens,” goalie Jillian Stapf said. “You literally have to roll with the punches, stuff like that you have to let go.”
CSUN improved its record to 20-5 and Long Beach State now is 7-14. The players are glad to have the first conference game out of the way and more importantly with a win.
“It‘s nice to go 1-0 from the start (of Big West play)” Curran said.
The team had gone two weeks without playing a game and getting back into the pool for a real game couldn’t come soon enough.
Long Beach State took an early 3-0 lead in the first period, which gave them momentum early.
“Going in we were a little nervous,” Pettinger said “We hadn’t played a game in two weeks so we had a slow start, but coach kept us calm.
“It was nerve wrecking at first, but once Alison Pierce got that first goal, from then on we knew it was our game.”
Pierce scored with 1:36 left in the first period and then Whitney Delgado scored on a penalty shot with 1:01 left in the period to make it 3-2.
From there, the Matadors played their game everyone is used to seeing them play, with the exploding offense and solid defense.
The start of the second period Pettinger scored to tie the game 3-3, she added two more goals, three steals and was named Player of the Game.
“I feel really good, but the team created everything and it was off drives that I was open,” Pettinger said
CSUN had eight different players score goals in the game and Delgado added one more to give her 53 goals this season.
“We were all looking for each other, and it was nice because we had a spread out of goals,” Pettinger said.
Defensively after the break down in the first period the Matadors got back into the groove and allowed the 49ers to score only one more goal in the fourth period.
“It felt good for us because their momentum was crushed.” Curran said “We knew it was hard for them to come back.”
Stapf made 11 saves in net, while the team collected eight steals.
“After allowing the (49ers) the first three goals we held them only to one goal after that so our defense stepped up. Stapf said.
“We know how we play and we don’t let things rattle us,” she added “Our coach said for us just to finish the game healthy and get the win.”
The 20 wins marked CSUN’s third year winning 20 or more games in a season.