THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.-- The Cougar water polo team kicked off the Posada Royale Invitational in dramatic fashion, collecting its second overtime win of the season with a 14-12 victory over Pomona-Pitzer on Friday morning. Azusa Pacific outscored the Sagehens 3-1 in the extra periods, and had five players finish with multiple goals. The Cougars later fell to Claremont Mudd Scripps 18-10 in the second of a five-match weekend in Thousand Oaks.
The Cougars trailed by four in each half of the opening game, but fought back to erase the deficit before holding on for the win. The Sagehens went ahead 4-0 quickly in the first before the Cougars closed the margin, and later Pitzer grabbed a 10-6 lead before Azusa Pacific again closed the gap. Taylor Whitney scored twice in the extra frames, leading the Cougars to a dramatic win.
“It was a roller coaster kind of day. We gave the other team an early advantage and we had to come back and close the gap. Once we decided to start playing halfway through the first quarter it was a battle back and forth, and I’m proud of how we battled and came back,” said head coach Julie Snodgrass. “It was a good team game and team effort. Everyone played well and did the job they needed to do. We have some fight to dig a hole and to get out of it. After that game I was encouraged that they had the ability to play a simple game when they needed to and overcome some adversity.”
Brittany Garrigan led all Cougars with four goals on the day, while Taylor Whitney chipped in with a pair of goals in the victory over Pomona-Pitzer. Azusa Pacific recorded 12 steals in the two matches, with Alynn Reade registering a team-high four. Megan Minekime dished out four assists, including three in the team’s third win of the year.
Jessica Armagost tallied six saves in the first match, and held Pomona-Pitzer to just four goals in the second half after the Sagehens rattled off four quick scores in the first few minutes.
In the second match Azusa Pacific trailed early again, looking up at a 5-1 deficit in the first quarter. The Cougars cut the Claremont Mudd Scripps lead to four, but never got closer as the Athenas ran away with the win. Breana Echevarria led the way with two goals, while Minkeime scored, drew two ejections, and registered an assist.
In the first match the Cougars found themselves in a big hole early on, trailing 4-0 midway through the first quarter before Garrigan put Azusa Pacific on the board to ignite a rally. The Cougars then scored the next three goals of the match to tie it up after Whitney, Lora Donaldson, and Reade each found the back of the net in the next six minutes of action.
Pomona-Pitzer, however, stopped the run to reclaim the lead at the 5:27 mark in the second, but after trading scores, Whitney capped the half just before the final horn, to make it a 6-6 match at the break. The Sagehens tabbed the first four goals of the third quarter to take a commanding 10-6 advantage with just over 12 minutes to play before the Cougars went on another run.
Minekime led off the spurt with her first goal of the match, then Allison Gonzales and Courtney Folsom scored on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to one heading into the final frame. Pomona-Pitzer struck first in the fourth to go ahead 11-9, and for the next three minutes neither team could get the ball into the net. Donaldson broke the drought with 4:46 to go, and Reade notched the equalizer at the 1:55 mark to send the match into overtime.
In the first overtime period Whitney was the lone goal-scorer, getting the ball past Sarah Tuggy with 35 seconds left on the clock. Then in the second overtime Garrigan gave Azusa Pacific a 13-11 lead before Pomona-Pitzer made it a one-score game with under a minute to play. Whitney, however, finished things off, scoring with 32 seconds left in the match to seal the team’s second overtime victory of the season.
Maryann Slama scored twice in the match, while Reade and Donaldson added a pair of goals apiece. Minkiem drew four ejections to go with her four assists.
The Cougars will return to action for a busy Saturday, which opens when they take on the No. 9 ranked team in the country (CWPA), Long Beach State, at 10:30 a.m., before taking on Cal Tech and Cal State East Bay in the afternoon.