Women’s water polo wins first home game of the season

Austin Teegarden,

On Feb. 3, the Pioneers women’s water polo team took on the Santa Clara University Broncos in the first home game of the season. The Pioneers went into the game with one win and one loss. The Broncos, similarly, had one win and one loss as well, having dropped their last game to the University of Hawaii.

The game started off fast paced. Both teams made a shot in the goal on their first possessions. After one quarter of action, the score was set at three goals to four with the Broncos leading. The Pioneers bounced back in the second quarter tying the game at six going into the second half.

Coach Cooper paced back and forth around the players bench during the second half. It started off stale with both teams having really good defense. That is until Brittany Smith of the Pioneers scored a remarkable sweeping shot to give the Pioneers the lead. At the end of the third quarter the Pioneers had the lead with nine to seven, going into the last quarter.

The fourth quarter started off fast. The Santa Clara Broncos scored three goals to the Pioneers one goal in the first two minutes. This tied the game at ten with six minutes to go in the game. The Pioneers’ own Auriel Bill broke the tie with just over three minutes left in the game. This was the final blow. The Pioneers defense held the lead and won the game 11-10 for their second win of the season.

“Defense,” freshman Maci Taylor told The Pioneer. “Our defense did really well today.”

Taylor scored one of the Pioneer’s 11 goals, playing a pivotal role in their victory. The defense played a strong role in the game and will throughout the season. Like the saying goes, “The best offense is a good defense.”

The Pioneers played UC San Diego on Feb. 9 and lost 17-7. This brought the Pioneers record to 2-2 on the season while UCSD moved to an overall 6-7 in the year, 1-0 to start their season. The Pioneers looked to improve going into the Triton Invitational over the weekend.

In the first game of the invitational, the Pioneers played Arizona State University and lost 5-11. The Pioneers scored two goals in the first half, one from Brittany Smith and Brooke Hodgkinson. The Sun Devils played great defense the whole game and the Pioneers looked to recover in the next game.

The Pioneers played Loyola Marymount University on Feb. 10 and lost another tough game 4-11. The Pioneers scored one goal in the first half thanks to freshman Adrien Van Dyke. The Pioneers failed to score for the rest of the half and were unable to muster any kind of comeback the rest of the game.

Going into Sunday, the Pioneers had dropped the first two games, looking to bounce back. They played Iona College and won with a final score of 11-8. Sophomore Auriel Bill led the team with three goals of her own. This win set up a rematch against Santa Clara in the final round of the tournament.

In the rematch from one week ago, the Pioneers were unable to repeat a win losing 7-6. In a close game the Pioneers were lead by Bill and Sophomore Briana Ruiz, both scoring twice in the final game. Overall, the Pioneers went 1-3 in the Triton Invitational and look to bounce back in the next week.

Their next game will be against Fresno State at the UC Davis Aggie Shootout in Davis on Feb. 17.  The Fresno Bulldogs have yet to play a conference game but are 2-6 overall in the season, winning their last game against Fresno Pacific on Feb. 9. The Pioneers should expect a tough game because they have not faced Fresno State in the last five years.

Looking ahead in the Pioneers season, with a young roster as seven of the women are either a freshman or a sophomore. Junior Makenna Nation is looking great this year as the starting goalie for the team, going into this last weekend with a .455 save percentage and 25 saves overall in just three games, averaging eight saves a game. Captains Bill and Leilani Vasquez look to lead the team to a better season than last year, finishing 13-13.

The Pioneers next home game will be March 10 against CSU Monterey Bay at 10 a.m., and they will also take on Azusa Pacific later that day at 4 p.m.