Irvine, Calif. – The Matadors knew coming in to face No. 10 UC Irvine on the road was going to be tough game and the results proved it as CSUN lost time in the final minutes of play and fell 9-8.
With the loss, the No. 14 Cal State Northridge water polo team dropped its sole first place in the Big West Conference standings. The Matadors are now in a tie for second place with UC Santa Barbara. They can still be one of the top seeded teams with a win tomorrow against Long Beach State.
“We had to adjust quickly to some of the things they (Anteaters) were doing. They had a hard press on us and did a couple of back picks that we weren’t ready for,” senior Sydney Sonoda said. “It’s tough to beat Irvine here (Anteater Aquatics Complex ).”
The Anteaters attacked first when their leading scorer, Danielle Warde, recorded a goal at the 5:46 mark of the first period, but Matador Whitney Delgado shot a floater over the Anteaters goalie a short time later to tie the game 1-1.
At the end of the period, Warde and Sonoda scored one each to end the first at 2-2.
The Matadors took their first lead of the game at 3-2 when sophomore Leah Janke scored just 38 seconds into the second period, which CSUN was able to hold until the 3:24 mark when Anteater Jessy Cardey scored to tie the game. At the half, both teams were even at 4-4.
The third period, which had spelled trouble for Northridge in the beginning of the season, seemed to haunt them as UCI capitalized on two goals to take back the lead, 6-4. Before the period was over, Anteater Cardey scored on second breakaway as CSUN added two more goals to end the third 8-6 in favor of UCI.
“Irvine did a great job defensively on us, which allowed them to counter us and I felt because we were in foul trouble in the first half it hurt us in the second half because we are not as deep as them,” coach Marcelo Leonardi said.
The Matadors had to play the rest of the game without their leading scorer Delgado, who received her third and final ejection of the game in the third at the 5:09 mark.
“It played a part (in the loss) because whenever you have the leading scorer on the bench it plays a significant impact, some of the other girls stepped up, but in order to win a game like this we need to be clicking on all cylinders and we needed all your players in the water,” Leonardi said.
Even with CSUN down by three at 9-6 after the Anteaters scored on a power play, the Matadors tried to fight back as they scored two goals at the 3:19 and 45-second mark. Northridge had one more chance to tie the game with eight seconds left, but could not capitalize.
The Matadors do not have time to dwell on this loss as they head to Long Beach State to face the 49ers in their last Big West Conference game.
“All we need to do right now is go into Long Beach and hopefully come out with the victory,” Leonardi said.