BOX SCORE (PDF)
LOS ANGELES, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team built a five goal lead before holding off the surging Sunbirds to advance to the Golden Coast Conference tournament’s fifth place match with a 10-8 defeat of Fresno Pacific Friday. The Cougars (16-20), who set the program’s single-season wins record with the victory, led 10-6 headed into the fourth quarter, but had to fight off FPU, which cut its deficit to two with a pair of scores and had two late chances to make even tighter.
Azusa Pacific, however, halted the Sunbirds’ comeback bid with two stops in the final minute to advance to Saturday’s fifth place tilt against California Baptist at the Burns Aquatics Center.
“We played well and got a good lead, but they made it tough on us late. I was happy with how the girls responded and I’m really excited to get to play California Baptist tomorrow. We’ve been improving all season, and It’s good to have another game with this group,” said head coach Julie Snodgrass.
The Cougars never trailed, and were tied just once following Maryann Slama’s goal in the first minute. The Sunbirds knotted the match at 2-2 in the opening frame, but Azusa Pacific responded with five consecutive goals over the balance of the half.
Taylor Whitney ignited the run before Alynn Reade pushed the Cougars ahead 4-2 in the second. Allison Gonzales then converted a 6-on-5 opportunity, Courtney Folsom followed that up with her first goal of the day, and Whitney capped the spree early in the third quarter to make it a 7-2 match.
The Sunbirds countered with two goals early in the third, and after a Slama score, got to within three on their third goal of the frame. Alyssa Hess kept FPU at bay with a 6-on-5 goal to give Azusa Pacific a 9-5 advantage, before Folsom’s power-play goal pushed the Cougars’ lead to 10-6 going into the fourth.
In the final quarter the Sunbirds rattled off a pair of goals while the Cougar offense stalled. Azusa Pacific failed to take advantage of four Fresno Pacific ejections, including a 6-on-4 chance that could have stretched the lead to three goals. But even with the stagnant offense Azusa Pacific was able to hold off FPU thanks to 11 saves from sophomore keeper Katie Margot, who blocked three shots in the fourth to seal a 10-8 Cougar win.
Six different Azusa Pacific players found the back of the net, with three scoring twice. Folsom, Whitney and Slama each had two goals, while Lora Donaldson, Reade, Hess, and Gonzales each added a goal after the Cougars finished with a 4-for-10 mark in 6-on-5 opportunities. FPU posted a 1-for-10 clip in the match.
The Cougars will close out the 2014 campaign on Saturday when they face California Baptist in the GCC fifth place match at 11:30 a.m. The Lancers took the only meeting this season, defeating Azusa Pacific 13-4 in Riverside earlier this year.