CSUN water polo unable to secure top spot in Big West Tournament

Monique Muñiz

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Goalkeeper Jillian Stapf and the Matadors won two games out of three they played over the weekend. Photo Credit: Monique Muniz Staff Reporter

The Cal State Northridge water polo team (27-7, 4-1 Big West) won its second consecutive Big West regular season championship but this year they are sharing it with Pacific (22-9, 4-1), who they lost to 8-7 in sudden death overtime on Saturday.

Unfortunately the Matadors  received the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, after the Tigers defeated UCSB 13-9 on Sunday.

“It was surprising, because Pacific doesn’t have the reputation that other teams have in our conference,” utility player Kristin McLaughlin said about the Tigers winning the top-seed in the tournament.

The Matadors are thinking positive.

“We are still back-to-back champions” utility player Alison Pierce said. “We are proud as a team even though we are now the second seed. We are looking on the bright side that the loss (to Pacific) came in regular season play and not in the tournament.”

The Matadors went into two sudden overtimes this weekend as they also faced No. 17 UC Davis.

CSUN vs. UC Davis
In its eight years of play UC Davis has beaten CSUN all eight times, but that changed Friday when it won a hard fought game in sudden death, 8-7.

“We knew they (UC Davis) were going to come out and play us tough, and going into their pool to win was a great accomplishment,” Pierce said.

Both teams played a close game, tying at the half 4-4. At the end of the third quarter the Aggies took a one-goal lead, making the score 6-5, and added other goal in the fourth to take a 7-5 lead.

With 4:44 left in the fourth period CSUN pushed on offense, where Sydney Sodona scored on a CSUN man-advantage to bring it back to 7-6 and with just 1:20 left in the game Renee Gargiulo scored to tie the game 7-7.

After a regular overtime both teams could not score causing the game to go into sudden victory, where the first team to score wins.

With a little more than a minute in sudden overtime, CSUN’s McLaughlin scored the game winning goal.

“It was exciting and a huge stamp on the (CSUN water polo) program to beat UC Davis,” McLaughlin said. “We struggled to execute, but we put it away when we had to.”

CSUN vs. Pacific
With the same ending score as the previous game CSUN came out at the other end, losing to No. 16 Pacific 8-7 in a second straight sudden overtime on Saturday.

“They played us totally opposite from UC Davis,” McLaughlin said. “They let us shoot from the outside and double and tripled teamed our centers so nothing went inside.”

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first period. CSUN offense finally got on the score board in the second period scoring three goals, but the Tigers added two more of their own to take a 4-3 advanatage at the half.

In the third, CSUN’s defense held Pacific to no goals, while Whitney Delgado scored to tie the game 4-4 at the end of the third period.

In the fourth, both teams scored twice to have a 6-6 tie at the end of regulation.

In the first overtime Pacific took a one-goal lead, but that changed when Sodona scored in the second overtime to tie the game again 7-7, sending the game into a sudden overtime where the Tigers scored first, winning the game.