Even with a full La Verne home crowd cheering, the women’s water polo team could not come through against Occidental at the La Verne Aquatics Center in Las Flores Park Saturday, losing 4-2 on the Leopards’ senior day.
Before the game, La Verne’s three seniors – goalie Lauren Shepard, attacker Alex Gudeneau and two meter Katie Lacek – were honored for their contributions to the team.
“I’m really going to miss it here,” Shepard said. “I think my best memories are from my freshman year, when we only had eight girls, and we all had to work so hard. It made me grow a lot.”
The game was a defensive battle between the Leopards and Tigers in all four quarters.
The Tigers had a total of 11 steals during the game, four of which came from senior attacker Danielle Garcia.
Freshman attacker Ryanne Bible scored in the second quarter for the Leopards, tying it up at 1-1.
However, the Tigers were able to score two goals afterward, making the score 3-1 going into the third.
“We just missed our opportunities,” head coach Alex La said. “I thought the girls played great, we just didn’t come up with the goals.”
In the third quarter, Leopard freshman center Catie Tuning scored a goal in the first four minutes.
However, Tigers’ junior center Lindsay Albino answered with a goal of her own and made the score 4-2.
Defensively, Occidental goalie Rachel Adeleye was prepared and kept the Leopards from scoring six times during the four quarters.
“We just couldn’t put our shots away,” sophomore defender Maddie Lovrensky said. “We could’ve scored in a lot of situations, but we just couldn’t quite get it done. I think we kept up with their defense though.”
The Leopard defense was strong despite the loss. Shepard kept the Tigers from scoring 12 times throughout the game.
She is also leading the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in blocks, according to La.
“We have great defense,” Shepard said. “Our counter attack needs to be stronger, and we need to be able to make those long shots.”
In the fourth quarter, both teams were scoreless and both goalies rejected three goals.
“We’re always trying to improve,” La said. “I’m really going to miss our seniors. They’re a hard working group and they put it all out there today.”
La said the team will now work on making more goals in practice, and put less focus on defense.
He also said Occidental was a great opponent.
The Leopards did a good job defending SCIAC Player of the Year Nanea Fujiyama, limiting her to just one goal.
“Last time they scored six alone from her,” La said. “Our defense was really focused on her, and we did a good job forcing her to miss.”
The Leopards took to the pool for their final game Wednesday at Cal Lutheran.
Once again the offense fell short and the Regals proved to be too much, beating the Leopards 13-2.
With the loss La Verne’s final record is 1-7 in SCIAC and 11-21 overall. They finished eighth in the conference, seven games behind first place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Karleigh Neff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.