Women’s Water Polo Finishes 5th at UCI Invitational
UCI women’s water polo team continuously threatened to erupt offensively, but much like the overcast clouds threatening rain over the Anteater Aquatics Center, they failed to materialize, aside from a short forceful burst early Sunday afternoon.
However, the fifth-ranked Anteaters were able to manage another solid defensive showing, which the team rode to a 3-2 victory over the seventh-ranked Rainbow Wahine, and a fifth-place finish at the UC Irvine Invitational.
“I think we need to work on finishing the opportunities that we get,” said senior goalkeeper Jillian Yocum. “(Our) offense in general is something that we struggle with, but I think our defense is pretty good for the most part.”
The Anteaters (8-5) seemed poised to have a prolific scoring game after junior Cambria Shockley quickly scored the first goal of the match within the first minute of regulation at 7:41. Neither team would manage to score for the remainder of the quarter, leaving UC Irvine with a 1-0 lead headed into the second.
In the second quarter it would be the Wahines’ turn to score within the first minute, courtesy of Chloe Barr at 7:10 to tie the game. A little more than a minute later, redshirt senior Danielle Ward found the back of the goalpost at 6:06 to put the ‘Eaters ahead 2-1.
Paula Esforzado converted on a penalty shot at 4:23 for Hawai’i to once again draw even with the Anteaters, but junior center McKenna Mitchell would strike before the end of the quarter at 2:17 to put UCI up 3-2 for good.
Both teams struggled to establish an offensive rhythm in the final two quarters. With a minute remaining in the fourth, Hawai’i had possession and one last opportunity to score and force overtime, but a timely steal by Warde clinched the win for the Anteaters.
“Our play was strong on the defensive of the ball, (but) I think we got a long way to go offensively. We’re certainly capable of scoring more than three goals in a game,” said UCI head coach Dan Klatt. “We’ll go back to the practice hours and figure out what we need to do to get better at that and watch some of our video.”
Yocum had nine saves while Sarah Logan of Hawai’i stopped seven.
“I think we played well. We’re still developing as a team and we got some work to do, but I think that overall it was a good weekend for us,” said Yocum. “We had a lot of good competition, and we did pretty well.”
With the conclusion of the UCI Invitational, the Anteaters will be able to take a collective breath from the invitational format, which consists of a grueling four-game schedule over the course of two-days.
“It’s a building (process),” said Coach Klatt. “We’re kind of getting through the tournament phase of our season. This is our last four-game weekend that we have for the rest of the year. They’re pretty wearing on the teams and we’re looking forward to isolating our preparation to one opponent or two opponents in the weekend as opposed to four.”
The Anteaters will have five days to rest before traveling down south to play San Diego State Friday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m.