CLAREMONT, CA — The University of La Verne women's water polo team battled late and came up with big defensive stops to pick up a huge 9-8 road win at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The squads entered the game tied for third place in the conference standings. With the win, La Verne takes over sole possession of third place with an 8-4 SCIAC record and two games remaining in the regular season.
The Leopards improve to 10-12 overall, and the Athenas drop to 9-13 overall and 7-5 in the SCIAC.
Shelby Garcia was huge in the cage for the Leopards. The two-time SCIAC Athlete of the Week finished with eight saves including the would-be tying shot as the buzzer sounded.
Guarina Garcia led the Leopards on both ends of the pool, finishing with three goals and four steals.
Jassmine Kezman finished with a pair of goals, both of them coming off penalty shots.
The Leopards finished 3-6 on powerplay opportunities.
The Athenas were led by Jessica Salaz's eight saves and Alex Szymczak's three goals.
From the Coach
"We had a good game plan going into today's game. We hit the pause button on it a couple times but we were able to refocus and get back on track," said Head Coach Pat Beemer. "Going into those last few seconds I told them we can relay on Shelby to make a save, just as long as we contest the shot and don't foul we'll be alright."
How it Happened
It was a defensive struggle early in the game with neither team able to score through the first eight minutes. Both Garcia and Szymczak came up with big saves for their squads to keep the game even 0-0.
The Athenas got on the board first early in the second quarter off a goal by Aracelia Aldrete.
But the Leopards responded with a 3-0 run first off a powerplay goal by Guarina Garcia and then off back-back goals by Riedel. The Athenas answered with two scores of their own in the final minutes of the half to even the game 3-3 at the break.
La Verne and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps went back and forth in the third quarter with neither squad able to hold momentum for very long. Kezman gave the Leopards the edge with 55 seconds in the frame when she capitalized on a five-meter penalty shot to give her team a 6-5 advantage heading into the fourth.
Guerrero was clutch for La Verne in the fourth quarter scoring twice including what would prove to be the game winner on a powerplay with 1:14 remaining in the game.
Beyond the Box Score
Kezman leads the conference with 74 goals, 21 more than the next closest player, and also ranks first with 85 points.
The Leopards have another big game on Wednesday with they travel to face second place Cal Lutheran at 4 p.m. The Regals narrowly defeated La Verne 13-12 earlier this year.
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