La Verne, Calif. (April 23, 2017)—The Sagehens won the 2017 SCIAC Women’s Water Polo Championship. Three Pomona-Pitzer players scored two goals each and rode a smothering defense on the team’s way to a 9-3 win over No. 1 seed Whittier College Poets at Las Flores Park on Sunday afternoon.
Pitzer College’s Jocelyn Castro ’18 scored two first half goals, and Natalie Hill (PO ’19) and Morgan McCracken (PO ’18) each added two of their own in the win. This is the Sagehens Women’s Water Polo team’s first SCIAC Championship since 2014.
“It’s a great experience,” said Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. “For us to finally achieve our goal and win this game is exciting.”
Pomona-Pitzer never trailed in the match, taking the early lead on a lob shot by Pitzer first-year student Bella Villa ’20. The Sagehens doubled their lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter when Castro caught a pass from Pitzer sophomore Samantha Martinez ’19 on the left side of the net. With a defender in her face, Castro rocketed a shot under the goalie’s arm for the 2-0 advantage.
Castro wasn’t finished as she added her second goal just 46 seconds into the second quarter. Villa found Castro in front of the net. With a defender crowding her, Castro bounced the ball under the goalie’s arm to put Pomona-Pitzer up by three.
The Poets’ only goal of the half came from Jenel Rivera with six minutes left in the second quarter. Then with 1:17 on the clock, McCracken fired a shot that deflected off a Poet defender and into the net to go up 4-1 at the break.
Whittier responded in the third quarter with Zyania Morales scoring the first goal of the period to cut the Poets’ deficit to two. But the Sagehens’ offense surged late, scoring twice in the final minute of the period. McCracken scored off the far post with 54 seconds remaining. Then with just seven seconds left in the quarter, Pitzer sophomore Kahea Kahaulelio ’19 snuck a shot past the goalie to take a 6-2 lead heading into the final period.
The Sagehens put the game away in the fourth, with Pitzer sophomore Kyla Pickell ’19 scoring three minutes into the quarter, and Hill adding each of her two goals in the period. Morales scored late for the Poets to put the final a 9-3.
Goalie Ahsha Earwood ’17 recorded eight saves, getting the win in the cage for the Sagehens. The Pomona-Pitzer defense frustrated the Whittier attack all game, getting a hand on most shots before they could even reach Earwood.
“We were getting a lot of field blocks,” Rodriguez said. “We did a great job in our five-man. We’re pretty deep, and I think we were able to wear them down a little, and as people got into foul trouble we were able to go to our bench.”
The Sagehens will have a week off from games as other teams across the country conclude their conference tournaments next weekend.
“We’ll probably have to go into the play-in game, but right now we’re going to enjoy this and when we get there, hopefully we can play our way into the NCAA Tournament,” Rodriguez said.
The Sagehens will find out who their opponent is in the NCAA play-in game on Monday, April 30. The announcement will be made at NCAA.com.