Pioneers sink Fresno Pacific water polo

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

From the start of the match, the Cal State East Bay water polo team had the foot on the pedal and never let off.

The Pioneers jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on their way to a 16-5 thrashing of Fresno Pacific University on Saturday at Pioneer Pool.

CSUEB is now 5-6 overall and 0-1 in Western Water Polo Association Conference competition this year. Last year at this same point in the season, the Pioneers were 3-9, but eventually made it to the WWPA conference championship game, where they fell to the number one seed UC San Diego Tritons, 10-8.

Senior Sabrina Hatzer picked up where she left off on Friday when she scored a school record 8 goals in one game against Sonoma State in Rohnert Park during the 11-7 victory. Hatzer scored 2 times in the first period and added another in the final period which gave her 3 goals on the day.

“Our goal was to counter attack and not allow shots,” CSUEB Head Coach Lisa Cooper said. “We knew we were a lot faster than them and we wanted to press to take advantage of that.”

Hatzer is second on the team in goals with 16 and trails only senior Tori Dettloff who has a team-high of 18 this season. Dettloff recorded a game-high 4 goals on 5 shots and 5 steals in the victory.

“We came out strong,” Dettloff said. “We weren’t worried about their attack.”

The Sunbirds’ attack wasn’t strong and Dettloff capitalized with a big steal in the third period with one minute left that she turned into a goal on the offensive end, which made the score 12-2.

However, Sunbirds senior Nia Apodaca answered right back and ended the third frame with a hard shot to the top left corner making the score 12-3 in favor of the Pioneers after three periods.

“They’re fast and push a good pace,” Apodaca said. “It’s not disappointing it’s just more frustrating when you don’t execute.”

FPU sophomore Julia Ponce scored her team’s final goal of the game on a breakaway after she floated the ball over the goalkeeper to cut the CSUEB lead to 13-5. Pioneers sophomore goalkeeper Miranda Diehm made a few big saves in the fourth period including a stop on a hard shot with 4:40 left in the final frame, which caused the bench to erupt.

CSUEB junior Olivia Mackell and senior Nayiri Kechichian both had 2 goals and five other Pioneers pitched in with 1 goal each. A trio of seniors, Casey Rushforth, Jenn Lightbody and Taylor Cross, all scored goals in the win and they all have at least 10 goals this season. Sunbirds senior Alyssa Stevens led FPU in goals in the loss with 2 on 4 shots.

Next up for East Bay is a road trip to Thousand Oaks for the Cal Lutheran Tina Finale Invitational at Samuelson Aquatic Center on Saturday and Sunday. The Pioneers will take on Siena College (1-3 overall), Pomona-Pitzer (0-4), Villanova (7-5) and Chapman (0-0) in the two-day event.

CSUEB will return home on March 10 when they play a doubleheader against Azusa Pacific (5-7) and Hartwick College (5-3).