Leopards end season with triumph

Campus Times
May 7, 1999


photo by Matt Wright

The ULV women's water polo team concluded its inaugural season Saturday with a win over Whittier College in the SCIAC tournament. Freshman Allison Alastuey scored the game-winning goal with 52 seconds left in overtime to cap a 7-6 victory. Freshman Maria DeSantis (above) tallied 13 saves during the Whittier game. She had an excellent performance, recording 59 saves over the weekend and 94 total in the tournament.

by Chris Peterson
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne women's water polo team finished its season on a winning note last weekend in the SCIAC Tournament at the University of Redlands.

On Sunday, the Leopards prevailed over Whittier College, 7-6, in its second overtime victory against the Poets in as many weeks.

Throughout the game, the score was tied on four different occasions.

Freshman Allison Alastuey scored the first of her two goals with 1:28 left in the fourth period to give La Verne a 5-4 lead.

Whittier answered soon after on a goal by Val Vitkauskas with :56 seconds left on the clock. The score would remain tied for the remainder of regulation.

Having defeated Whittier in overtime just one week earlier in the first round of the SCIAC Tournament, La Verne went into the overtime period with a sense of confidence.

"We had a lot of confidence going into overtime," said freshman goalie Maria DeSantis. This confidence showed for DeSantis. She blocked several would-be game-winning shots by the Poets.

Early in the first overtime period, La Verne went ahead 6-5 on a rocket, perimeter shot by freshman Tandis Morgan, who had threes goals in the game.

"We didn't want it to go into sudden death overtime again. We knew we could win it," said Morgan.

Whittier answered with a goal of its own with 1:21 left in the second overtime period.

Whittier then followed with an offensive barrage that DeSantis and the Leopards defense handled with the greatest of ease. The Leopards transitioned to the offensive end after a DeSantis save. Morgan ended up with the ball and took a high, far corner shot that was blocked by Whittier goalie Sara Kiesselbach.

Taking advantage of the rebound from the save, Alastuey quickly tipped in the ball on the near side for what would be the winning goal.

The Leopards played more tough team defense to prevent another Whittier score and pulled out the 7-6 win.

Freshman Theresa Taylor contributed two goals, and Desantis tallied 13 of her 59 saves on the weekend en route to the Leopards last win of the season.

The final round of the SCIAC tournament was not exactly a carnival of fun for the Leopards, however. La Verne suffered four straight losses Friday and Saturday.

"We were a little bit of a roller coaster team this season," said head coach Tim Hugar. "But we finished pretty strong at the end of the season. We didn't have a lot of wins, but we played good."

In La Verne's first game of the final round Friday afternoon, Redlands took advantage of its experience and seniority as it routed the Leopards, 13-3.

Freshman Andrea Griffith scored two goals and freshman Katie Aimone scored one in a game that was controlled by Redlands.

Later Friday afternoon, the Leopards faced off against Occidental and fell to the Tigers, 11-2. Goals came from Morgan and freshman Theresa Taylor. Desantis blocked a total of 13 shots.

Saturday morning proved to be a repeat of the day before as La Verne fell to Claremont, 7-1. La Verne held Claremont to a 3-1 lead at halftime in a tough defensive game.

The second half proved to belong to Claremont, though. The Athenas scored four more goals to lock up the win. Claremont would go on to beat top-seeded Redlands and swipe the tournament title.

Morgan scored La Verne's only goal, and DeSantis recorded 10 saves.

Saturday's second game for the Leopards ended up being the positive turning point for the young team as it exchanged blows with Pomona-Pitzer.

After a slow start and a 3-0 deficit in the first period, the Leopards rallied behind Taylor, who scored two consecutive goals, and a goal by Morgan to tie the score at 3-3 going into the fourth period.

Junior Liz Rodarte scored a goal early in the fourth period to give La Verne its first lead of the game, 4-3.

The Sagehens then tied the score on a goal by Jacquie Cole. However, La Verne was determined to win.

Griffith put the Leopards back on top on a heroic goal with 1:34 left to play. But the Sagehens defense proved to be too much for La Verne as it converted two La Verne turnovers into goals and won, 6-5.

DeSantis recorded a remarkable, tournament-high 15 saves in the Leopards loss.

"To get ready mentally to play at this level is what we're trying to do. We're getting more comfortable playing here," said Hugar.

La Verne will return all players from this year's roster for next season.

The Leopards competed throughout the season with two juniors and 10 freshmen, a factor that could prove to be key in the building process of the first-year team.