CSUN water polo: Matadors beat Bucknell and Marist at Matador pool

Monique Muñiz

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NO PASS: Matador goalkeeper Dana Harvey keeps the net safe on Wednesday. The CSUN water polo team (16-11) played their final two games and have a two-week break before starting Big West Conference play. Photo Credit: Simon Gambaryan / Contributing Photographer

Two games, two different styles of play, but same outcome for the Matadors as they defeated both Bucknell and Marist at Matador Pool Wednesday.

The CSUN water polo team played its most physical game of the season so far. The Matadors were able to come out with the victory in their first game of a double-header, 11-9, to Bucknell.

“They were hanging on us. A win is a win, but it’s rough when it’s physical like this,” said Sydney Sonoda who had three goals. “We haven’t had a team that has pressed us so hard.”

CSUN led 2-1 at the end of the first, but by the second period, the Bison came back to take its first lead, 3-2, at the 4:24 mark of the second. Northridge came back though with a one-man advantage and another goal by Melissa Doll to make it 4-4 at the half.

“I thought Bucknell did a great job on defensive pressing. They were physical and we had a hard time adjusting to it,” coach Marcelo Leonardi said.

In the third period, CSUN regained the lead when Whitney Delgado scored at the 6:23 mark to make it 5-4, while Doll added other goal to end the third to give the Matadors a 6-4 lead.

In the last period of the game, the Matadors saw the most physical last minutes. CSUN took a 10-6 lead with 3:51 to play after Sonoda scored on a rebound shot.

That is when the Bison came back to cut the lead, 10-9, with 59 seconds left in the game.

“I thought we got called on a lot of offensive (fouls). We got off of our game plan,” Leonardi said. “I pulled some of the players that were being called for offensive (fouls) to settle them down mentally.”

With 32 seconds left, Doll scored an insurance goal for CSUN and sealed the win.

Dana Harvey started in net and made 13 saves and Delgado scored two goals, Doll three, Sonoda three, Heidi Pettinger two and Jessica Goforth one.

The last game of the day for Northridge was against Marist and it was less physical as the Matadors won 10-7.

“Marist didn’t come out as physical. I think they came back in zone on your center play and as a result we had more outside shots,” Leonardi said. “When we get back in zone, it seemed to be a less physical game.”

For most of the game, the Matadors and Red Foxes were equally matched. Doll started the scoring for CSUN and at the end of one period Northridge led 2-1.

The second period saw both teams going back-and-forth on offense with both squads scoring four goals apiece and the Matadors had a slight lead of 6-5 at the end of the first half.

The tempo of the game went down in the last half as the third period started. Doll, who had six total goals Wednesday, gave CSUN a small cushion at the 4:30 mark with her goal to make it 7-6.

“Missy (Doll) came and showed up for both games today. She was instrumental in our win against Bucknell and in this game, her second goal was at a critical point,” Leonardi said.

In the fourth, Marist cut the lead at the 5:54 mark to 8-7, but CSUN held the Red Foxes and scored two more goals for the victory.

“We played pretty well overall, but the break will be good (because) some of us are physical exhausted,” freshman Doll said.

CSUN will now have a two-week break before coming back to Matador Pool to start Big West play against UC Davis.

Leonardi cited that with these two games, he knows what the team will need to work on to prepare for the Big West when they get back to the pool next week.