The third period was a struggle for the Matadors at the start of the season. There were mistake-filled third periods in which the other teams were capitalizing on opportunities and CSUN had no answer for.
Well the last two Big West games for the Cal State Northridge water polo team depicted a different third period story in the game against UC Davis Saturday and Pacific. The Matadors scored a combined 12 goals while holding their opponents to four.
“Once we settled down and made our halftime adjustments, their (Matadors) confidence shot up and the defense was stellar,” head coach Marcelo Leonardi said. “We figured it out. We solved the problem.”
The latest victim to No. 17 CSUN’s offense was No. 18 Pacific in a 11-9 win at Matador Pool.
The Tigers attacked first with a goal at the 6:12 mark and added another goal to give them a 2-0 lead until Melissa Doll scored for the Matadors to end the first at 2-1.
In the second with 30 seconds in, Heidi Pettinger tied the game at 2-2, but Pacific continued to add to the scoreboard as it had three straight goals to give them a 5-2 lead at the 5:31 mark.
The Tigers added one more goal as CSUN got two from Leah Janke to end the period and take the game into halftime at 6-4.
“When we came into this game, we wanted to go 2-0 in conference and when they (Tigers) got up, we had to stay calm and there was still a half of water polo to go and we did what we had to do to win,” said Janke, who had a career-high four goals in the game.
Northridge’s defense relaxed as its offense exploded as the Matadors scored three straight goals and took their first lead of the game 7-6 at the 3:22 mark of the third period. Pettinger added two more goals and Jessica Goforth one to end the period 10-7.
In the final period, the Tigers tried to make a comeback with two goals in the beginning of the period, but Northridge held on and added one more for the victory.
“Once we get two minutes in the game and have the lead it is more about ball control, we don’t need to score more when we are in the lead we don’t want risk or called on offenses (fouls) or ejection,” Leonardi said. “We need to trust or defense and if they do score a goal we are still up by one and just run the clock.”
Game Notes:CSUN faced Cat State San Bernardino in a non-conference matchup later in the day and won 10-9. Senior Sydney Sonoda, second leading scorer, did not play due to a concussion suffered in the UC Davis game. The Matadors’ next Big West opponent will be UC Santa Barbara and that game will be April 9 at noon at Matador Pool.