IRVINE, Calif. – The Matadors came out 1-3 over the weekend at the UC Irvine Invitational at Corona Del Mar High School, which featured the nation’s top eight teams and 15 of the top 20 water polo squads.
The No. 13 Cal State Northridge water polo team (9-8) faced two Big West Conference teams, No. 5 Hawaii and Cal State Bakersfield.
In their first game of the invitational, the Matadors could not stop the pouring of goals in the second half by Hawaii, which dominated the last half.
CSUN knew coming into the game it was going to be tough facing a team like Hawaii and fell 12-5 in its first game of a double-header Saturday.
“I made some key substitutions in order to rest my players for the fourth quarter, but playing freshmen, they are young and made some critical mistakes in critical times, which cost us goals,” head coach Marcelo Leonardi said.
Northridge was only down by a goal after the first period, trailing 2-1. The team trailed 4-1 at the end of the half.
In the third period, the Matadors fired back with Heidi Pettinger scoring two goals within two-minutes of each other to bring CSUN back within one goal at 4-3.
Hawaii then capitalized on the Matador mistakes and the Rain Warriors went on to score eight more goals in the second half to win.
“We pushed them all the way and I think we could have done a few things better,” said Pettinger, who had a hat trick in the third period. “We made a few errors that led to their (Hawaii) goals.”
Following the loss to Hawaii, the Matadors went to face Big West rivals No. 15 UC Santa Barbara and lost 11-8.
“They (Gauchos) have always been a rivalry for us and they always give us a good game,” junior Whitney Delgado said. “A factor for us is being young and we are still coming along together and seeing who can play with who.”
The Gauchos came out of the first period with five goals while holding the Matadors to three and at the end of the first half, UC Santa Barbara led 8-6.
In the second half, the Gauchos allowed the Matadors to score two more goals while they collected three goals for the win.
Pettinger had four goals, utility player Sydney Sonoda had two goals in the game and goalie Nicole Concialdi had two saves compared to Gauchos’ goalie Ruth Milne, who had eight saves.
Northridge faced Cal State Bakersfield for the third time this season and won 12-5.
At the end of the first period, the Matadors had a 2-0 lead over the Roadrunners and led 5-3 at the end of the half.
Matador Melissa Doll and Sonoda had a pair of goals in the game and goalie Dana Harvey and Conciali both were in the game with a combined seven saves.
The last game for CSUN was against another Big West Conference nemesis, No. 17 UC Davis, where CSUN was defeated 8-5.
After a scoreless tie at the end of the first period, the Aggies took a 4-1 lead at the end of the first half. The Matadors were not able come back.
“There were certain points in the third and fourth period (where) we played good water polo, but at times we couldn’t finish completely (offensively) or get stops,” Delgado said.
At last season’s UC Irvine Invitational, CSUN beat the Gauchos 10-6 and went on to win the other three meeting against them.
Last season the Matadors only faced UC Davis once and won 8-7 in sudden death overtime.