Box Score (PDF)
FRESNO, Calif.-- It was a matter of rest versus rust, and in the end rust won out. After over two weeks since playing its last match, the Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team struggled out of the gate in a 9-7 loss to Cal State Monterey Bay in the opening round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association Invitational on Saturday.
The Cougars, who closed the regular season in impressive fashion, trailed 4-1 at the first break, and saw the Otters go ahead by as many as four before storming back to tie it at 6-6 in the second half. Azusa Pacific (9-20) scored four consecutive goals in the third quarter, but couldn’t sustain its late surge as Cal State Monterey Bay went on a 3-1 run to end the match and advance to the semifinals against No. 17 ranked (CWPA) UC San Diego on Saturday night.
Brittney Garrigan registered a hat trick in the loss, while Maryann Slama chipped in with a pair of goals. Katie Margot and Jessica Armagost recorded eight saves, and limited CSUMB to four second half scores. Cal State Monterey Bay’s Paige Robinson finished with 11 blocks, including five in the final frame.
The Otters took advantage of an early Cougar ejection, scoring less than a minute after the opening sprint to go ahead 1-0. CSUMB then made it a 3-0 contest with a goal, followed by a 6-on-5 five score with 2:13 remaining in the quarter. Azusa Pacific broke the run when Alynn Reade found the back of the net with 34 seconds on the clock before the Otters got another 6-on-5 goal to make it a 4-1 match after the first eight minutes of play.
The Cougars cut the deficit to two with a score from Slama, but Cal State Monterey Bay pushed its lead back to three going into halftime. Early in the third quarter the Otters grabbed their biggest advantage of the day with a quick goal before Garrigan opened up a 4-0 run for Azusa Pacific.
Garrigan sandwiched goals from Slama and Taylor Whitney in a three-minute flurry to make it a 6-6 affair with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter. CSUMB broke the spree two minutes later, reassuming the lead for good on Christina Keller’s lone goal of the day. The Otters pushed their lead to three with two more fourth quarter goals before Slama closed the match with her second score of the day.
Azusa Pacific will now play in the fifth place match on Sunday at noon, where it’ll face Fresno Pacific, which beat Cal State San Bernardino in the consolation game.