Water polo splits Southern California road trip
THE SANTA CLARA
April 3, 2014
The No. 18 Santa Clara women’s water polo team initiated Golden Coast Conference play by splitting two games down south this past weekend. The Broncos defeated Azusa Pacific University by a score of 10-8 on Friday but were edged by Loyola Marymount University 9-7 the following day.
“Winning these conference games is key in terms of seeding for the conference championship tournament,” said senior Kaitlin Murphy. “The higher our seeding, the better position we put ourselves in for achieving the GCC title.”
The first of six conference games for Santa Clara, which will continue over the next few weeks, began with a trip to Azusa, Calif. to take on the Cougars from Azusa Pacific.
Sophomore Elle Surber netted the first goal of the game, giving the Broncos a 1-0 lead, but the advantage would not last long. Azusa responded quickly, scoring three goals to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
For the second time of the match, Santa Clara responded with a player advantage. The Broncos’ Ashleigh Bandimere cut the deficit to one goal during the beginning stages of the second quarter. The game was a constant battle between both sides from that moment forward.
Following the break, both teams continued to fight for the lead. With Azusa up by one in the waning seconds of the third quarter, Murphy led the charge and netted the equalizer, setting up a final quarter to decide the outcome of the match.
The Broncos would go on to score two more goals and the squad remained stout on the defensive end to come away with the two-point road victory.
“The conference win against Azusa was big,” said Murphy. “We hadn’t seen Azusa since last year and with each outgoing and incoming class, we didn’t know what to expect from them. They came out really physical and determined and although it was close, we came out with a win in the end.”
The Broncos faced Loyola Marymount — an intimidating conference rival — the following day in another back-and-forth matchup. The Broncos took an early 1-0 lead after a made penalty shot from sophomore Erin Sheridan but the Lions responded, evening the score between the two sides.
Santa Clara managed to grab a two-goal lead in the third quarter, but the Lions went on a 5-1 scoring run over the remainder of the match to capture the win.
Murphy finished with four goals in the loss.
“The game on Saturday just slipped away from us at the end, but keeping up with debatably one of the strongest teams in our conference gives me a good feeling going into the conference championships,” said Murphy. “Although they won this game, we’ll beat them when it really counts.”
Seven more games remain on Santa Clara’s schedule going forward, four of which will be conference matchups.
Santa Clara will dive in the pool for its next game on April 5 against Fresno Pacific University before returning home to take on the University of the Pacific and California State University, East Bay less than 24 hours later.
Murphy has mixed emotions as the season starts to wind down.
“As we approach the end of the year, it’s hitting me really hard that this is the last season I’ll ever play water polo,” she said. “It’s bittersweet, but I look forward to finishing strong with such a fantastic group of girls. We have our eyes set on that Golden Coast Conference title and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.”
Contact Ivan Munoz at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.