CSUN water polo: Matadors now 3-0 in Big West Conference after beating UC Santa Barbara

Monique Muñiz

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RELEASE: Lindsy Nelson (5) prepares to take a shot during the game against UC Santa Barbara. Nelson had two goals during that game at Matador pool. The Matadors are now 3-0 in conference. Photo Credit: Monique Muñiz / Sports Editor

The outcomes of the last home games for the four seniors at Matador Pool could not have been any sweeter as the Matadors won both games this weekend against Big West rival UC Santa Barbara and non-conference opponent Cal Baptist.

“It’s sad to think this is my last home game and I will miss it, but it’s a good stamp winning these two games today and going undefeated at home,” Sydney Sonoda said.

The No. 16 Cal State Northridge water polo team’s first game was against nemesis No. 15 UC Santa Barbara. CSUN played dominant defense and the solid goal keeping by Dana Harvey proved to be the difference this time in its win against the Gauchos 8-7.

The last time the two teams met, the Gauchos won 11-8, but this time it was a different CSUN team they were facing.

“It has been a month since we played them and we progressed so much and I don’t think they were ready for what we are going to throw at them,” Heidi Pettinger said. “Our defense was nails down Dana (Harvey), who blocked everything and it (offense and defense) all came together.”

Northridge (21-11, 3-0 BWC) scored first with a goal by Leah Janke at the 7:36 mark of the first period and it was not until 3:44 left in the period that the Gauchos came back to tie the game 1-1.

UCSB took the lead in the game on a penalty shot at the 2:15 mark as both teams added three more goals to end the period 3-3.

The second period started as the first one did. When the Matadors capitalized at the 4:22 mark with a goal from Big West Conference. Leading scorer Whitney Delgado tacked on one more to end the score at the half 5-3.

Both goalies had seven saves by the half.

“Harvey bailed us out several times and she also showed up, our defense helped her, but she made some miraculous stops and I thought that was the difference in the game. When we needed stops, we got them,” coach Marcelo Leonardi said.

The third period, which of late has been dominant on the offense, saw CSUN score two more goals and held UCSB with one to end the period 7-4.

The last period was about holding onto the lead and killing the clock. It was the same story this time as the Gauchos didn’t stop attacking on the offensive end.

By the six-minute mark, the Gauchos scored three goals, the last one coming with 37 seconds left, which brought them within one at 8-7.

“As coach, you are worried about how momentum goes, but I knew I had one timeout. We were playing at our pool and just the way the game was going, they had that chance to tie it and they missed,” Leonardi said.

CSUN held on to the victory and Harvey collected 15 saves.

In the last game of the day in a non-conference matchup against Cal Baptist, CSUN honored its four seniors before the game: Bethany Scamara, Nicole Concialdi, Chelsea Curran and Sonoda.

This game was no challenge for the Matadors, as they defeated the Lancers 14-6.

It was all Northridge, as the team took a commanding 5-0 lead in the first and added more offense, to end with a 8-2 margin by the half. The Lancers’ first goal came at the 3:37 mark of the second period.

CSUN tacked on four more goals in the third while Cal Baptist added four straight goals to end the period 12-6.

The Matadors scored two more goals in the fourth to end the game.

“We moved to 3-0 in Big West with that win against Santa Barbara and our seniors went out as winners, with not just an opportunity to play the games, but also finish the game. As emotional as it was, they maintained themselves. I am proud of them,” Leonardi said.