FRESNO, Calif.-- Last season it took the Azusa Pacific water polo team five matches to notch its first win. This year the Cougars needed just one, opening the season with a bang, doubling up Fresno Pacific 8-4 before falling to Cal State Monterey Bay 17-7. Seven different Cougars registered goals on the day as Azusa Pacific (1-1) broke its four-match losing streak to the Sunbirds (0-4).
“It was a great trip,” said first year head coach Julie Snodgrass. “The first game we came out and played solid...[It] was great, especially because they’re an NAIA program that we’ll be [contending with] for an NAIA title.”
In the first match Courtney Folsom, Jennifer Horchler, and Gabrielle Kredel each found the back of the net twice while the duo of Brooke Sovick and Jessica Armagost held Fresno Pacific to just four scores.
Azusa Pacific also had a pair of freshman play well in the opener with Folsom and Lora Donaldson combining for three goals, two assists, and three steals.
In the second contest the Cougars gave up 14 first half goals and struggled to break through the Otters' unconventional defense, which featured a set that put two field keepers alongside the keeper in goal; daring Azusa Pacific to shoot from outside. The Cougars managed only two first half goals to go into the break trailing 14-2.
The second half, however, fared much better for Azusa Pacific as the team beat the Otter defense for five goals over the final two quarters. The Cougars’ defense also showed marked improvement, allowing just three goals in the final two frames. Nevertheless the first half damage was simply too much to overcome as Azusa Pacific dropped to 1-1 with a 17-7 loss.
“We need to be able to make adjustments sooner. The girls are learning how to play with each other and I’m learning how to coach this team,” said Snodgrass. “Obviously there was frustration, but it was about how we can respond and get better.”
The Cougars will get back in the pool on February 1, with a 7:30 p.m. road tilt against Vanguard.