RIVERSIDE, Calif.-- The Cougars strong week continued on day one of the Lancer Invitational when the Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team opened Friday with an 8-7 come-from-behind win over the Virginia Military Institute before falling to NCAA Division I Iona (N.Y.) 11-6 in the second match.
Azusa Pacific got a pair of hat tricks in the win, and saw freshman keeper Katie Margot log 13 saves. Taylor Whitney paced the Cougars with three first-half goals against VMI, while Maryann Slama led an Azusa Pacific comeback with three goals, including two in the fourth quarter.
Jennifer Horchler and Lora Donladson also scored in the match. Azusa Pacific converted three of its nine 6-on-5 chances, and limited the Keydets to only two goals with a player-up advantage.
In the victory Azusa Pacific outscored the Keydets 3-1 in the final quarter to erase a 6-5 deficit. The Cougars trailed by as many as three goals in the match, but closed the game on a 5-1 run, with three scores coming from Slama in the span.
Azusa Pacific was behind 2-1 after the first quarter, with Whitney accounting for the team’s lone goal. Whitney soon erased VMI’s advantage with a 5-meter early in the second, and gave the Cougars a short-lived lead minutes later to notch a first-half hat trick. The Keydets knotted it at 3-3 with 2:16 in the half, a score that would hold into the break.
Azusa Pacific struggled in beginning of the third quarter, allowing VMI to find the back of the net three straight times to give the Keydets their biggest edge of the day. But the Cougars rallied, getting a goal from Slama with over a minute to play, and a buzzer-beating goal from Horchler to make it a one-goal affair after three quarters of action.
Slama gave Azusa Pacific the equalizer with 5:18 remaining, and converted a 6-on-5 opportunity to give the Cougars their first lead of the half. Donaldson put the finishing touches on the comeback to make it an 8-6 match, before the Keydets scored a meaningless goal just before the final horn.
In the loss to Iona Alyssa Hess recorded a pair of goals, while Megan Minekime drew a match-high four ejections. Angelina Castaneda, Whitney, and Slama also found the back of the net against the Gaels. Jessica Armagost and Margot combined for 12 saves in the goal, and only allowed Iona to score one 6-on-5 goal.
The Cougars, who are 2-2 this week, will close out the Lancer Invite on Saturday against St. Francis and Marist. Azusa Pacific will matchup with St. Francis at California Baptist at 1 p.m. before traveling to Redlands for a 5 p.m. game against Marist.