The women’s water polo team concluded its season on a high note last weekend, beating Caltech 12-3 in its conference tournament.
The Leopards dropped matches to Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier however beat Caltech in the last game of the tournament and their season.
On Saturday, ULV could not find an answer to Whittier after they jumped out to a 7-0 lead at halftime.
“They took advantage of opportunities we gave them,” said senior goalie Lindsay Jones. “But I think we improved a lot since the last time we played them.”
The Leopards were able to cut into Whitier’s lead with two unanswered goals by Diane Aguayo and Elizabeth Roberts to reduce the deficit to five.
However, Whittier had an answer in the form of Indre Lauraitis who scored a breakaway goal with one minute left in the third period.
“They counter-attacked us pretty well,” said head coach Alex La. “We did a lot of things well but we just didn’t have enough experience in the water.”
The Poets would go on to score two more unanswered goals, one by Sarah Peel and another by Lauraitis.
Whittier did not surrender the lead again, winning 10-2.
On Sunday, the Leopards were back in the pool to take on Caltech. La Verne came out victorious winning 12-3.
“This season has been a learning experience for me,” said utility player Cindel de los Reyes. “I think we grew a lot as a team over the course of the year.”
“We have made huge improvements from the beginning of the season,” said La. “We are returning a lot of key pieces and with recruiting we should have a lot of knowledge in the pool for next year.”
For Jones and senior Melinda Fairman, the victory against Caltech will be the senior’s last for the Leopards.
“I will take away a lot of things from this program, not just about water polo,” said Jones. “I learned to be a leader in and out of the pool.”
“Lindsay was one of the best goaltenders in the conference,” said La. “And so losing her will be a drastic loss for this team. She worked hard and lead by example everyday.”
“Melinda was the heart of our team. She brought so much passion to our team and she was our vocal leader in the pool,” added La.
Besides Jones and Fairman, the Leopards will return the rest of their lineup to compete next year and will use their experience gained this year to help improve the program.
“Two of our major contributors are freshman and now they will have a full year of experience with them,” La said.
“I think they need to do a good job recruiting,” said Jones. “Numbers help out a lot in water polo and as long as they can improve their numbers I think they will be fine.”
“Next year we need to continue to play hard,” said de los Reyes. “We didn’t have a lot of subs this year to give our girls rest. We have a lot talent, we just didn’t have a chance to breath.”
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet, not being able to play for ULV anymore,” added Jones. “I am really happy with what our team was able to accomplish this season.”
Kevin Garrity can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.