Matadors water polo team prepare for tripleheader on Saturday

Monique Muñiz

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The water polo team just came back from a tough road trip, but now are set to play its next series this weekend in a tripleheader. photo credit: Misael Virgen /photo editor


 
After facing four ranked opponents at the Michigan Invitational to start the season, the Cal State Northridge women’s water polo team will return to California for a tripleheader on Saturday against Azusa Pacific, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Concordia University, Irvine on the campus of Cal Baptist.

The Matadors went 1-3 against the ranked teams, with the lone victory coming in a 6-5 upset over No. 13 Indiana.

“Our first games were like a trial, it was a chance to get the freshmen a feel of college play,” senior Sydney Sonoda said. “We beat Indiana, which was a game we needed to win and allowed us to move up to No. 13, now we need to inch our way up from there.”
This weekend’s games against non-ranked teams will allow the freshmen to get more playing time, which two-meter Heidi Pettinger said gives them more experience.

“It’s a chance for them to learn on their own, where to go, and set up things in the water,” she said. “We need to get them to transition into the bigger pools, which CSUN does not have.”

Northridge pool size is 25 yards while opponents’ pools are 20 meters.

Coach Marcelo Leonardi said the upcoming tournament is about giving the freshman confidence and executing new plays.

“We were rushed into the Michigan tournament and getting those players that traveled ready,” Leonardi said. “Now with this coming tournament it gives me a chance to give the freshmen more playing time and seeing how they execute.”

CSUN has stressed how important the defense needs to be on top of its game and let its offense follow. During the Michigan series there were some break downs, which the Matadors know they need to improve on.

“We still have a lot of work on and we have to be tighter at the perimeter,” Sonoda said.

The defense has been practicing going one-on-one in the water to prove they can compete with opponents individually.
 
The Matadors broke down at certain times in the Michigan tournament, and the control of the games was out of reach, which they were unable to bounce back from.

“We saw moments of an improved defense,” Leonardi said. “We are making defense a priority this weekend.”

Northridge gave up 45 goals in the four games, something Leonardi wasn’t happy about. Last season the Matadors didn’t give up that many goals in any four-game span.

“The team averaged six to seven goals (allowed) last season, 10 goals a game is just way too much, but we will make adjustments and make improvements,” Leonardi said.

In its last three games Azusa Pacific has giving up 37 goals while only collecting 20 of its own. The Cougars will play two games before they face CSUN on Saturday. 

CSUN’s next game will be against the Athenas of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College, who haven’t started their season.

Northridge last opponents will be the Eagles, who will play two games Friday and one more Saturday before they compete against the Matadors.

For Leonardi, the match-ups this weekend are for the Matadors to stay focused and play within their own system and executing on their own plays.

“We started working harder when we came back from Michigan,” Leonardi said “Going into this weekend it is more how we play as a unit in order to translate later when we start Big West.”