RIVERSIDE, Calif.-- It was an up and down opening day at the Lancer Invitational for the Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team. In the first match the Cougars dominated second half play in a 10-5 win over Cal Lutheran, before Pomona Pitzer erased a two-goal fourth quarter deficit in an 11-10 defeat of Azusa Pacific.
In the first match Azusa Pacific and Cal Lutheran were knotted at 5-5 late in the second quarter, but the Cougars rattled off five consecutive goals, shutting out the Regals over the final two quarters to improve to 4-4. But Azusa Pacific’s second-half dominance ended in the loss to Pomona Pitzer, with the Sagehens holding the Cougars scoreless in the fourth quarter, to drop the Cougars to 4-5 on the season.
Maryann Slama continued her impressive sophomore campaign, registering a pair of hat tricks on Friday. The Burnaby native scored three goals in the first quarter against Pomona Pitzer, and found the back of the net in the first, second, and fourth quarters against the Regals to move her team-leading goal total to 22 on the season with seven multi-goal performances in nine matches this year.
Freshman Megan Myers also nabbed a hat trick, while Megan Minekime tallied three goals and drew three ejections. Angelina Castaneda, and Alynn Reade each tabbed two goals between the two matches.
Jessica Armagost and Katie Margot combined for eight saves and seven steals, with Margot blocking a 5-meter against the Sagehens.
In the opening match Azusa Pacific jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter, getting two goals from Myers and scores from Slama and Minekime. In the second quarter, however, Cal Lutheran scored four straight goals to take a 5-4 edge with 3:03 to play in the half before Myers tied it at 5-5. Slama then gave Azusa Pacific a 6-5 lead headed into the break.
The Cougars continued their run in the third, going up 7-5 with a Reade goal, before Castaneda sandwiched a Slama score to give Azusa Pacific a 10-5 win.
In the second match the Cougars led by as many three, taking a 5-3 edge into the first break after a high scoring first quarter. In the frame Slama notched three scores, while Minekime and Allison Gonzales registered the team’s other two scores. The second quarter saw just one goal, a score from Reade with 5:35 on the clock as Azusa Pacific took a 6-3 advantage into the half.
After giving up the opening goal of the third frame the Cougars regained a three-goal edge on Alyssa Hess’ first of two third quarter goals. A 6-on-5 score from the Sagehens made it a 7-5 match before the teams traded goals over the balance of the quarter to give Azusa Pacific a 10-8 lead headed into the fourth.
Another 6-on-5 goal from Pomona Pitzer with 6:50 to play brought the Sagehens within one, before a goal with 4:51 remaining knotted the match at 10-10. Then after Slama was ejected late in the quarter Pomona Pitzer took advantage with another 6-on-5 goal, grabbing an 11-10 lead with just over a minute to play to hand Azusa Pacific its fifth loss of the season.
Pomona Pitzer earned 13 6-on-5 chances, including a pair of 5-meter penalty shots, leading to eight Sagehen goals.
The Cougars will return for day two of the Lancer Invite on Saturday, where they’ll face Occidental and the top-ranked team in the country, USC, at 3 p.m.