Women’s water polo team battles, loses close home opener

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Women’s water polo team battles, loses close home opener

First-year utility player Megan Wadman looks to score during a second quarter offensive possession.

First-year utility player Megan Wadman looks to score during a second quarter offensive possession.

Abraham Fuentes

First-year utility player Megan Wadman looks to score during a second quarter offensive possession.

Abraham Fuentes

Abraham Fuentes

First-year utility player Megan Wadman looks to score during a second quarter offensive possession.

Isaiah Cappelen, Staff Writer

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A young Santa Rosa Junior College women’s water polo team failed to finish after coming out firing in the first half, losing their home opener to rival Diablo Valley 16-13  Sept. 12.

A few jitters at the start of the game were expected for a team composed of nine freshman on a 14 player roster, but the Bear Cubs looked alert, aggressive and communicative through the first quarter and a half. However, as the game progressed, players grew tired. Key components of water polo like communication and assertiveness began to  decrease. If the team carried their style of play from the first quarter through the rest of the game, it might have ended differently.

The only rough spots during the first half for SRJC were a couple mental lapses as well as defense, but that was the team’s downfall in the long run. A hard foul from  first-year Megan Wadman gave the Vikings a free shot at the goal which they converted into a score. Santa Rosa allowed Diablo to rack up 3 points compared to the home team’s 5 by the end of the first quarter.

The offense looked fast and executed efficiently. The Bear Cubs whipped the ball around to each other, making crisp passes and hard shot attempts. With a few early goals from second-year Makayla Jordan and first-year Emily Beireis, the Bear Cubs were on point.

The Bear Cubs started the second quarter even hotter than the first. A score within the first thirty seconds, a stop on defense, and another score on the ensuing possession, put SRJC up 7-3.

A frequent occurrence for inexperienced teams is having difficulty holding onto a lead, and  Santa Rosa’s youth was exposed when their defense became lax allowing Diablo to gain the lead 7-5 after scoring four unanswered points.

“Our team is super young,” head coach Joey Doyle said. “Even our goalie, who’s been doing a great job, just started 2 weeks ago, so we still have a lot to work on.”

An SRJC score increased the lead to 8-5 but unfortunately, the scoring barrage from Diablo continued. The Vikings’ added two more points cutting the deficit to 8-7.

The Bear Cubs were forced to call a timeout after the offensive attack from Diablo, but the re-group didn’t work out in Santa Rosa’s favor. A  shot from Diablo player Haley Grimmer and an unlucky bounce off of goalie Kelly Birkland’s hand tied the game at 8-8 with 2:21 left in the second quarter.

By halftime, momentum shifted in Diablo’s favor and the  Bear Cubs’ stamina began to waver. Diablo added to the amounting shift in dominance by putting in another score to take the lead into halftime, 9-8.

Another pitfall of  young teams is staying mentally tough in close games. Despite Santa Rosa giving a valiant effort in the second half, the tide shifted in Diablo’s favor and they played at a steady pace.

As the opposing team kept chugging along, SRJC looked tired, and the spark they had in the beginning of the game was missed in the second half.

“We got tired, and that affected our communication,” said Doyle. “Communication is very important and when that starts to go down, so does your play.”

The Bear Cubs went back-and-forth with the Vikings, trading scores.

The Bear Cubs’ chances at coming out on top were shot down by their exhaustion. They couldn’t get enough stops on defense, and their offense couldn’t match the opponent’s.

Late in the fourth quarter with two minutes remaining, SRJC was down 16-12 and had a chance to come back. They ended up putting the ball in the net one last time, but it was too late. The Viking’s lead proved too much to overcome. The game ended in a hard fought, but losing effort.

Despite the score not falling on the side of the Bear Cubs, their head coach had encouraging words.

“We have a really young team and we have a lot to work on, but its only up from here and I was proud of the effort we gave today.” Doyle said.

The Bear Cubs will look to even their record at home to 1-1 at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Quinn Swim Center against Sacramento City.

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