After its victory over Whittier in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, the University of La Verne women’s water polo team backed up their invitation to the National Division III Collegiate Championships with a strong fifth place finish at Haldeman Pool, May 6-8 in Claremont.
La Verne was one of three SCIAC schools in the tournament. The other familiar SCIAC competitors included host Pomona-Pitzer and Occidental.
The Leopards finished on a high note the last day of the tournament earning a resounding 11-6 victory over Washington and Jefferson (Penn.) in the fifth place match.
La Verne dived in early with a 5-2 lead building up a 9-3 advantage in the third period to seal the win.
Once again the Leopards were led by Kristin McKown and Jessica Egbert, who each scored four goals respectively to close out the tournament.
For the second day in a row the women’s water polo team split a pair of matches.
The Leopards opened with an upset of top seed and tournament host Pomona-Pitzer, 9-8, followed by a 9-7 defeat at the hands of UC Santa Cruz.
“I was generally pleased with the team this year,” head coach Tim Hugar said. “We made some good strides for our program, making it to the national tournament and beating the team that was the eventual champion; that was the first time we’ve ever done that.”
Marianna Garcia distributed three goals against the Sagehens followed by two each from Renee Moyer, Kari Erickson and McKown.
The Leopards’ victory over the Sagehens came as the first of the season. ULV had previously lost to Pomona, 5-7, on April 4.
Unfortunately the Leopards could not hold their early 5-4 advantage over Santa Cruz and lost, despite the morning’s success.
Ebert led La Verne against the Banana Slugs with three goals.
In the opening day of the tournament, the Leopards got off on the right track with a commanding 8-3 victory over Wheaton College (Ill.) before dropping a 6-1 decision to Cal State East Bay. In the match against Wheaton, Egbert and McKown each had two goals apiece in the win while Erickson, Laura Larsen, Moyer and Garcia contributed one goal each.
The Leopards lone goal against East Bay came from Moyer scoring in the third period as the team was down, 3-0.
“All in all, I felt we did really well, especially since we have a pretty young team, we only graduated one senior,” Hugar said.
The team finished the tournament with a strong 3-2 performance to end their outstanding 2005 season.
Jonathan Corral can be reached at email@example.com.