To end its conference season with a triumph, the women’s water polo team beat the Caltech Beavers, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at Las Flores Park.
The last time these teams met, the Leopards easily swam over the Beavers, 13-4. However, this time around, the Beavers made the Leopards sweat for the win.
“They were more prepared this time,” head water polo coach Alex La said.
“We came in too confident,” junior captain Diana Aguayo said.
“At the same time we were making little mistakes that hurt us,” she added.
Coming out strong, senior Catherine Tehuitzil found the net in the first quarter and scored first for the Leopards.
Caltech answered right back to keep La Verne within reach, when it retaliated with a Hanna Dodd goal that left the first quarter tied at one a piece.
Caltech lead the second quarter for a short period of time after sophomore Liz Roberts got ejected from the game.
With Roberts out for the short time, the Beavers easily scored against the Leopards with a man down advantage.
Both Dodd and sophomore Erin Hoops scored for Caltech in the second period, but Aguayo took upon her captain role and hit net twice for the Leopards. The second quarter finished in a tie.
“They had strong defense and our offense wasn’t so strong,” sophomore Elizabeth Roberts said.
The halftime break proved to be just what the Leopards needed as it propelled the offense to take the lead.
Junior Anjuli Palos De La Rosa scored her first of three third quarter goals in the first 25 seconds of the quarter.
De La Rosa had been out for most of the season with a shoulder injury but was cleared before the game. She proved to be a major asset for the run-down team.
“No hesitation. She did help us,” Aguayo said.
“She in a way saved us in the game,” Aguayo added.
“Her experience in the game is needed,” La said about De La Rosa.
Not allowing the Leopards to slip away, the Beavers put on some pressure with back-to-back goals in the third quarter.
Strong defense from the Leopards was crucial and their hard work held Caltech at five goals.
As the Beavers were unable to score after the third quarter of play.
Seeing that the Beavers were down, the Leopards picked it up and Aguayo added another before De La Rosa fiercely scored two goals in less than two minutes.
At the end of the third quarter the score was 7-5 and La Verne was one quarter away from claiming victory.
But the Beavers stuck with it and tried everything to stop the Leopards offense, including aggressive play that resulted in an ejection.
Roberts was assigned the role of taking the penalty goal and scored the five meter free shot.
Aguayo scored her fourth goal in the last minutes of the game and sealed the win 9-5.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” La said. “They don’t ever give up and they don’t quit.”
With the win, La Verne takes the No. 7 seed in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament that will be held at Pomona-Pitzer today.
La Verne will face Occidental in the first round of the SCIAC tournament.
Ashley Morgado can be reached at email@example.com.