The water polo team traveled to California over spring break to participate in the California Lutheran Invitational and the California Baptist Lancer Invite tournaments, playing in a total of five games. The Wildcats competed against UC Santa Cruz and Cal Lutheran on Friday in the Cal Lutheran Invitational and rounded out their participation in the tournament in a game against Cal State Monterey Bay on Sunday. The team competed in the California Baptist Lancer Invite on Saturday, playing against California Baptist and Fresno Pacific. The ‘Cats came away from both tournaments winless despite remaining competitive, especially in the double-overtime loss to Fresno Pacific.
The first game of the weekend was on Friday morning against the UC Santa Cruz Slugs. Although the Slugs pulled ahead to an early 1-0 lead, Villanova retaliated by scoring on a Hail Mary shot to tie the game up just as the opening quarter expired. The Slugs answered back with three goals in the second quarter to lead 4-1 at the half. The Wildcats failed to catch up, losing by a final score of 11-6. Freshman Kathleen Maloney led the way for the ‘Cats by scoring twice, while her fellow freshmen team members Maria Apablasa and Nicole Lum each claimed one goal. Seniors Carla Martinez and Julie Ramaley rounded out the Villanova scoring by contributing one goal each.
The second game of the day was against the host team, the CLU Regals. Villanova lost this game by a score of 18-5. Martinez had a big game as she scored a hat trick. Lum and Maloney chipped in with one goal apiece.
The team’s first game in the California Baptist Lancer Invite on Saturday was against the host team, the California Lutheran Lancers. Although the game was close through the first half, the Lancers outscored the Wildcats 7-0 in the second half, handing the ‘Cats a 15-4 loss. Martinez scored the first goal of the game for Villanova, while Maloney scored twice in the second quarter. Apablasa also scored in the second quarter for Villanova. The second of the team’s two games in this tournament was the heartbreaking double overtime loss to Fresno Pacific. The game remained tied at 9-9 through the first overtime period, but the Sunbirds scored in the second overtime to win the game by a score of 10-9.
The team completed the Cal Lutheran tournament on Sunday with a game against Cal State at Monterey Bay. The Otters led 2-0 after the first period and outscored the Wildcats in each of the three remaining periods to win the game 9-3.
Next up, the team will host Mercyhurst on March 29. After that, the team will prepare to play in the MACC games, which begin in April. — J.A.