CSUN water polo head to UC San Diego Tournament to face Cal State Bakersfield

Monique Muñiz

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Sydney Sonoda (14) keeps the ball from Whitney Delgado (9). The Matadors will be participating in the UC San Diego Tournament with a record of 4-3. They will play their first home game of the season Saturday, Feb. 19. Photo Credit: Misael Virgen / Photo Editor

Coming off a perfect 3-0 performance at the Cal Baptist Invitational, the Cal State Northridge water polo team looks to continue the momentum into this weekend’s games at the UC San Diego Tournament.

“This weekend will be more challenging, but hopefully the experience from this last weekend will help us go into the Bakersfield game,” said defender Jessica Goforth.

The Matadors (4-3) will start against Cal State Bakersfield and will advance with a victory to face No. 6 Loyola Marymount, but CSUN isn’t looking that far ahead.

“Our focus all this entire week has been for that (Bakersfield) game,” head coach Marcelo Leonardi said. “I spoke to them already about matchups, knowing tendencies, what player they have. Throughout the week we will continue working on our system in terms of building on what we did last weekend.”

Leonardi said they still would prepare for any opponent they may face, but need to concentrate on Bakersfield first.

He added the team’s goal of building confidence and giving the new players experience worked out last weekend.

“I saw a lot of growth in the freshmen, but not only that, I saw a lot of players that didn’t get many minutes last year, that got a significant amount of playing time and gain confidence,” Leonardi said. “The only adjustment they are going to have to make is the speed of the game and decision making.”

Where Northridge did improve on was the defense, something they had trouble with in its first tournament of the season (Michigan Invitational). The Matadors held Azusa Pacific, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Concordia to 21 goals combined, a big improvement from the 48 allowed in their first four games.

“We had a few times we could have played better and we let them (opponents) take advantage of our mistakes, but obviously holding them up to a low amount of goals was a good indication of our defense,” Goforth said.

Leading CSUN on offense is Whitney Delgado with 16 goals followed by Heidi Pettinger with 14.

In net for the Matadors there is still a battle for the starting spot with both Nicole Concialdi and Dana Harvey playing well.

“For me and Nicole at this point it’s a little but if the unknown,” said Harvey, who had four saves last game she played. “This weekend is going to determine who is going to take that leadership role in the cage.”

The Bakersfield Roadrunners are 2-4, defeating Vanguard and Concordia at the UC Santa Barbara Tournament.

In six games, the Roadrunners have given up 69 goals while scoring 51 goals. Bakersfield had a combined 36 goals in its two victories.

CSUB only has nine returners on this season’s squad with Tammy Barksdale being the only senior and five freshmen added to the mix.

“We are beginning to gel and it’s starting to work itself out,” Harvey said. “Come the Bakersfield game I feel pretty confident going into it and I think the team should as well.”