Water polo loses to Whittier

Posted March 30, 2007

In an aggressive and intense game against the Whittier Poets, the La Verne women’s water polo team lost its opening Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game on Saturday.

The entire week before the game the Leopards were preparing for a match that they knew would be close.

They ran drills that specifically catered to preparing for the Poets rough style of play.

“They are one of the most physical teams we play against,” said Katie Watkins, a junior driver. “You just have to not let it get to your head and not fight back.”

Armed with a strategy the team went into the game well-prepared but because of unforeseen circumstances Jen Aguilar, a key utility player, was unable to play in the game.

Losing Aguilar for the match caused the women of ULV to band together and work harder.

They wanted to win this first game of conference against their SCIAC rival.

“We had a lot of energy through the whole game,” said Melinda Fairman, a sophomore utility player. “That’s been our problem before we were a second quarter team but we played well the whole game.”

The Leopards came out strong in the first quarter against the Poets.

Junior utility player Lindsey Watson scored two goals that quarter but Whittier responded with a goal of their own.

Watkins drew an offensive kick out while guarding an extremely aggressive Poet set player.

Offensive kick outs are very rare and even though the team did not convert it to a goal, the team was pumped.

In the second quarter the Poets shut down the Leos double set offensive strategy and forced La Verne to take shots from the outside.

The Leopards struggled through the second and third quarters trying to adjust their offense but in doing so they let up on the defense allowing eight goals in the two quarters while only scoring two goals of their own.

Going into the fourth quarter it looked as if ULV had been defeated 4-8, but the Leos fought hard to get back in the game. The Leopards came back scoring four goals in the final quarter and only allowing three from the Poets.

It may not have been enough to win the game but the ladies felt vindicated in their efforts. With a final score of 8-12, five of which were scored by Watson and the remaining three by freshman utility Amanda Fernandez, the team did not leave too disappointed.

“This was one of the first games we were really playing together as a team,” Fairman said. “So, it didn’t really feel like a loss.”

Watson is among the nation’s top 50 scoring athletes, with 40 goals this season.

“Watson is a force to be reckoned with,” said Freddie Sicard the women’s water polo assistant coach. “She is doing a phenomenal job in the pool and she is showing a lot of leadership for only being a junior.”

This is a developmental year for the team where the coaching staff is still trying to harness the abilities of all the players so the young team can make it to nationals.

“We would like to qualify for nationals. It’s realistic,” Sicard said. “All of the league games are going to be tight but it’s just a matter of converting our opportunities and playing good defense.”

The woman’s water polo team has an upcoming game tomorrow in Los Angeles against Occidental at 11 a.m.

The team is confident about the match up and would love it if some fellow Leopards could go out and show some support.

Jillian Pena can be reached at jpena2@ulv.edu.

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