STOCKTON, Calif.-- The early road hasn’t been easy for the Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team, and that tough sledding continued on Saturday. In the team’s first five matches it’s faced five programs ranked inside the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s top-20, and at the University of Pacific Invitational the Cougars squared off with another pair of ranked opponents.
Azusa Pacific (1-8) fell to No. 16 Hartwick (N.Y.) 24-8 in the morning, before losing 13-6 to tournament host, No. 17 Pacific in the afternoon. Taylor Whitney recorded a pair of hat tricks in the losses, logging three goals in each match, and Megan Minekime tallied a season-high five steals in the loss to the Tigers. Alyssa Hess finished with three goals on the day, while junior keeper Jessica Armagost notched a career-high 16 saves in the match against Pacific.
In the loss to Pacific the Cougars scored three first quarter goals, with Brittany Garrigan, Hess, and Whitney finding the back of the net to make it a 4-3 contest after eight minutes. In the second quarter Azusa Pacific gave up three straight goals, and went into half trailing 7-3. The Tigers continued their run through the third quarter, grabbing an 11-3 lead before Azusa Pacific got back to its scoring ways in the fourth with three goals.
Jen Horchler and Minekime each registered three assists in the loss, while Allison Gonzales and Maryann Slama each tallied a pair of steals.
The Cougars, who fell behind early in last night’s loss to East Bay, faced the same problem against the Hawks, finding themselves down 8-1 at the end of the opening quarter. Hartwick continued to put it on in the second, taking a 14-4 lead at the half despite three 6-on-5 scores coming from Folsom, Whitney and Slama.
Hartwick found the back of the net six times in the third frame, while Garrigan logged the Cougars’ only goal of the period. Azusa Pacific got three goals in the fourth, as Whitney and Folsom beat the Hartwick defense to register multi-goal performances.
Minekime drew six ejections, helping Azusa Pacific record four 6-on-5 goals in 18 chances. Horchler added three assists, while Angelina Castaneda tallied three steals in a losing effort. Hartwick rattled off eight 6-on-5 goals in 16 tries. Armagost opened the match in goal, blocking six shots in the first half and Katie Margot totaled three blocks over the final 16 minutes of action.
The Cougars, who have traveled three or more hours for each of their first nine matches, will return to action next week when they play in the Lancer Invitational at California Baptist in Riverside. Azusa Pacific will face No. 21 CBU, and No. 3 USC on Friday before facing Occidental on Saturday.