Pioneers sink Otters on senior day


Photo by Kedar Dutt/The Pioneer

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The California State East Bay women’s water polo team played their final home game over the weekend against California State Monterey Bay, in the last home contest on a stormy day.

Before the game, East Bay honored the 7 seniors on the team; goalkeeper Nikki Vaughan, drivers Nicole Williams, Shelbie Higginson, Amy Chin, Katelyn Clark, 2-meter Olivia Mackell, and utility player Brandi Carroll.

“I am saddened that I will be leaving this wonderful team that I have grown to genuinely love, “ Vaughan said. “But I am excited to be moving on and embarking on new adventures.”

East bay was able to secure a sweep this season against Monterey Bay (6-10 overall, 0-2 conference). In their first match against the Otters on March 24, the Pioneers outlasted Monterey 11-10 in a competitive, back-and-forth game. This game proved to be similar.  

Monterey scored first early in the opening quarter when senior center Adrianna Craft scored at the 6:20 mark. The Pioneers responded just three minutes later, to tie it up 1-1.

East Bay and Monterey continued to trade goals, but the Pioneers were able to stay ahead with a two-goal advantage, leading 6-4 going into the second half.

Fifty-four seconds into the second half, freshman utility player Auriel Bill scored from an assist from junior utility player Rocio Fesembeck.

“Coach [Lisa Cooper] reminded us of our potential and motivated us to get up on the scoreboard,” Bill said.

The Pioneers went on to score 3 more goals in the third quarter, which gave them a comfortable 10-5 advantage. The Otters mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter as they put 4 goals in the period, but it was not enough to beat East Bay.

“Though we had the lead in the first half, we were still learning and adapting to our opponent and when it came to halftime we knew how to get the upper hand,” Vaughan added.

Junior 2-meter Leilani Vazquez sealed the deal for the Pioneers as she scored with 2:54 left to add to East Bay’s 11-9 win.

Bill had 4 goals and 2 assists in the game and has been solid all season for the squad as a freshman. Bill scored 4 or more goals in 5 games this season.

“Honestly it is easy to do when you have teammates who believe and encourage you to keep pushing,” Bill said. “It strengthens your focus just knowing you have 22 teammates and four coaches who are cheering for you, it brings in a sense of momentum.”

The Pioneers are now 11-12 overall, 1-1 in conference and will travel to Sonoma State (8-17, 0-1) on Saturday to play in their final Women’s Water Polo Association Conference game. The two teams have met twice before, in which they split games.

“This next game is extremely vital in terms of placement for the WWPA championships,” Vaughan said. “The team is aware of what we have to do to win so the only thing we have do is execute what we know and have practiced.”