CSUN water polo attempts to clinch top seed in conference

Monique Muñiz

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The Matadors have three games remaining in the regular season before the Big West Tournament and standing in their way of a No. 1 seed is conference opponents UC Davis and Pacific, who they face Friday and Saturday on the road. Also CSUN closes the road trip with a non-league match against at Santa Clara.

“We are down to two weeks left in our season,” head coach Marcelo Leonardi said. “We are starting to play well and I feel that we are just beginning to start peeking, we haven’t peeked yet.”

CSUN is currently 3-0 in conference play and are 25-6 overall, as they prepare to take on their next conference opponents were they know it will be a tough challenge.

“Hopefully by the Davis game we are playing some of our best water polo,” Leonardi said.

With one of the top defenses in the conference the Matadors have had a total of 50 blocks and 255 steals in the season. In the last six games the team has allowed 43 goals to their opposition, and All-American goalie Jillian Stapf has 218 saves.

Offensively the team has 323 goals with attacker Whitney Delgado leading the way with 68 goals. They have 20 more goals in the last six games then they have allowed their opponents.

“Right now because we are doing so well the teams in our conference are playing their best water polo, throwing everything at us,” driver Kirra Kylander said. “We are going into each conference game with each opponent playing their best game.”

No. 15 UC Davis (15-14) is 1-3 in conference play and recently lost a close game 7-6 to UC Irvine. Carly Ternasky is leading the Aggies with 36 goals followed by Jessica Dunn with 32.  Also leading them on the defensive end is Ternasky with 27 steals and 19 kick-outs. The Aggies goalie Casey Hines has 186 saves.

Pacific (20-9) is just coming off a win over Long Beach State, 6-5, and are now 2-1 in Big West Conference play. In the Tigers last six games they are 3-3 with two wins against conference teams. Pacific’s Jasmine Myles has 119 assist, 64 goals, and also leads the team in steals with 28. The team has given up 171 goals with goalie Brooke Millar having 199 saves and has 30 steals.

The last stop for CSUN is to Santa Clara in a non-league game. The Broncos are now 14-13 and recently split their last two games with a loss to Cal State Bakersfield 13-12 in double overtime and a win over Sonoma State 8-7.

Bronco Taylor Harkins has 46 goals while Jenny Knutson leads in assist with 42. Defensively the team has 174 steals with Caitlin Espe leading with 28. Santa Clara goalies have allowed 205 goals and their number one goalie Wren White has 149 blocks.

“We want to win our last games and go as the number one seed in conference,” Kylander said.

CSUN will play at UC Davis Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at Pacific at noon and Sunday at Santa Clara at noon.