Women's Water Polo: No. 25 Sagehens Fall To No. 8 Pacific in NCAA Opening-Round Game

Women's Water Polo: No. 25 Sagehens Fall To No. 8 Pacific in NCAA Opening-Round Game

STOCKTON, CA — The No. 25 Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team stayed close with the No. 8 Pacific Tigers, but fell in the NCAA Opening-Round Game, 11-5.

Season Record: The 2017 SCIAC Champion Sagehens finish the season 17-19 overall after playing 15 games against ranked opponents this season. Four Sagehens earned All-SCIAC honors including SCIAC Player of the Year Christina Williamson

"I'm happy with our season," said Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. "Coming off my sabbatical I was nervous having only four girls that have been coached by me and how they would respond to my style. We've grown up a lot this year and I'm excited to see what next season will bring."

"A lot of our success is attributed to Associate Head Coach Alex La," said Rodriguez. "I don't think anything we would have accomplished any of this without him. We are co-coaches and he truly is the MVP of our team."

Kyra Christmas scored the opening goal of the game just under five minutes into the first quarter to give the Tigers the initial 1-0 lead. 

The Sagehens responded when Samantha Martinez evened the game 30 seconds later. The sophomore grabbed a pass from Anna Yu 10 meters out with the shot clock winding down and lobbed a shot over the top of the goalie to get Pomona-Pitzer on the board. Yu nearly gave the Sagehens the lead with a minute left in the first quarter, but her shot bounced off the post and out. 

The Tigers retook the lead with one second remaining in the quarter on a shot by Mariana Duarte that bounced off goalie Ahsha Earwood's hands and in, giving Pacific the 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Pacific got off to a quick start in the second quarter when 20 seconds into the period Rachel Kriger grabbed a pass in front of the cage and scored to extend the Tigers lead to 3-1.

Natalie Hill had a chance to cut the deficit five minutes into the second when she fired a shot to the right side of the net. But Pacific goalie Alexis Hollinrake made a diving save to keep the lead at two goals. 

Pacific went up by three when Duarte stole a pass and scored with just over three minutes left in the half. 

The Sagehens answered with 1:27 left in the period after Earwood sent a long pass to Yu who then drew an exclusion on Ellen Tiedemann. Junior Morgan McCracken then drilled the penalty shot to cut the deficit to 4-2. But the Tigers rallied off two more goals to go into the break with a 6-2 lead. 

After the Tigers scored to open the second half, Pomona-Pitzer scored their first goal of the period on a power play connection from Williamson to Hope Grant. Grant fired a shot in between two defenders and past the goalie for the goal, putting the score at 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

Hill added a goal in the final period when Kahea Kahaulelio found her open at the ride side of the cage. Hill sent a shot to the back of the net to put the score at 10-4 with four minutes to play.

The Sagehens fought to the last second of the game with junior Erica Halaszynski scoring on an assist by Kahea Kahaulelio to put the final at 11-5.

The Tigers scored four goals in the fourth quarter. Pacific advances to play No. 2 Standford next week in Indianapolis.

The Sagehens return 16 of 20 players next year with just four seniors graduating. Earwood, Grant, Williamson, and Chessa Burke finish their Sagehen careers with two SCIAC titles. 

"I can't say enough good things about Christina as a person, player, and leader," said Rodriguez "Hope grew a lot in four years emotionally and competitively. Chessa gets every inch out of her talent, no one has more heart than her, and Ahsha is one of the best goalies I have ever coached."

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