Water Polo: CSUN is back home for two games

Monique Muñiz

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BAD WEEKEND: The Matador water polo team went 1-3 at the Aztec Invitational over the weekend. CSUN will face Bucknell and Marist before starting Big West games. Photo Credit: Monique Muñiz / Sports Editor

After 12 grueling road games away from home, CSUN will finally return to Matador Pool for seven games. To start off, the Matadors will face Bucknell University and Marist today.

Two-meter Heidi Pettinger said it will be good to play games at home as opposed to just practice, due to the extended road schedule. She cited the crowds and the referees as the difference in home games to away games.

The Cal State Northridge water polo team (14-11) will be preparing for these two games before starting Big West Conference play, which is set to begin  April 2 against UC Davis.

“It is nice to be home. It will be a good way to prepare for Big West games,” Jessica Goforth said. “Getting to play these two games at home will help us get ready for UC Davis.”

Defensively, CSUN has allowed a total of 46 goals in the last four games at the Aztec Invitational where the Matadors went 1-3.

“Our five-on-six defense has been good, but it was when we are on even strength that we are hurting defensively and we just got lazy,” said Whitney Delgado, who leads the team with 59 goals. “We all need to work together in these two games (and) we need to buckle down and focus on that (six-on-six) in the pool.”

In its double-header today, Northridge will face the Bison (7-5) in the first game. Bucknell has won three of its last four games before facing Long Beach State Tuesday, beating Marist, Concordia and La Verne.

“Bucknell has played some teams that we have, so I know we can’t take this game lightly and they are going to come hard at us, but we need to take it like any other game,” Delgado said.

Leading the Bison is Julianne Valdes with 23 goals, 11 assists and nine steals. Following her is Hallie Kennan with 22 goals on 54 shots and nine steals. In net, the Bison have split the duty with Brittany Connell and Rena Heim, both combine to make 105 saves.

“We need to make sure we match up with where the leading scorers are going to be and hopefully hold them to no goals,” Delgado said.

The Bison are balanced offensively and defensively on goals in the last four games, giving up 43 goals and receiving 43 goals.

The last game of the day for CSUN will be against the Marist Red Foxes (7-11). Prior to today’s games, Marist has won three of four games with the lone defeat coming against No. 7 Michigan, 12-5.

“I think we will do well.The first game is a way to warm up and get ready.After games, teams usually are relaxed and we will be able to feed off the crowd’s energy,” Pettinger said.

Rosie Pauli leads Marist with 27 goals and second on the team is Jackie Puccino with 22.

After these two games, the Matadors will have two weeks to get ready for Big West Conference games. CSUN players do not see it as a bad break.

“This is a perfect break.We can rest and recover from the all these long tournaments and let our bodies rest so when we get back to practice next week, we will be working hard getting ready,” Pettinger said. “It is a good two weeks to prepare for conference because we will be hungry to play.”

Game Notes: Marist defeated CSU San Bernardino and Redlands Tuesday. Bucknell’s late Tuesday game ended in defeat at the hands of Long Beach State, 13-4.