The women's water polo team started off spring break with tough competition at the Aztec Invitational. The team played at San Diego State University and lost its first four games to No. 18 Indiana, No. 6 California, No. 4 Hawaii and No. 5 San Diego. The Bears were able to pull off a win against Pacific in their last game of the invitational.
They continued on to play ranked teams on Wednesday and Thursday facing No. 8 UC Irvine and No. 3 UCLA, but again fell short against both. They ended the week at the Roadrunner Invitational with three wins and one loss.
"When you play 11 games in eight days, you are going to see some good things and bad things," wrote Head Coach Felix Mercado in an e-mail to The Herald. "I felt that in both tournaments we were able to adjust to most of the opponents but we obviously made more mistakes than I would have liked," Mercado wrote. "To play teams that are ranked so high and compete with them, I think our team grew in confidence."
On March 20, Brown fell to No. 18 Indiana, 9-8, in an exciting match. The Bears started off strong with a goal from Samantha Ryu '12, but the Hoosiers came back with the next three goals to earn a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Indiana continued its streak by putting another goal in the back of the net early in the second quarter.
Sarah Glick '10 and Lauren Presant '10 ended Indiana's run by scoring two power-play goals to go into halftime down 4-3.
Brown came out determined in the second half with a goal by Presant to tie the game up. But Indiana scored two consecutive goals to make it 6-4. Presant scored with five seconds left in the third quarter to make it 6-5.
The Bears tied it in the final quarter, but Indiana scored three more goals to make it 9-6 with less than three minutes left in the game. Brown tallied two more goals, but it wasn't enough to win the game, and the Bears fell 9-8.
"During the Indiana game, we were all trying to work together to win the game," Presant wrote in an e-mail to the Herald. "Going into the fourth quarter we were trying to pull out the win, but we made some mistakes as a team and lost by one goal. In learning from our mistakes, we look forward to a rematch."
No. 6 California came out strong in the first half to hold a 7-1 advantage over the Bears in their second game. Brown was able to outscore California 3-2 in the second half, but couldn't make up an early deficit and lost, 11-7.
Brown couldn't keep up with No. 4 Hawaii and fell 20-4 in their third game of the invitational. Hawaii held a 9-1 lead at halftime. Brown's four goals came from Bethany Kwoka '12, Glick, Presant and Katherine Stanton '11.
Goalkeeper Stephanie Laing's '10 thirteen saves weren't enough to beat No. 5 San Diego on the last day of the invitational. The Bears kept up with San Diego in the first quarter but San Diego gained an 8-4 lead going into fourth quarter. The game ended with San Diego on top 10-6.
Laing was selected as the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Northern Division Player of the Week for her performance at Aztec Invitational. She recorded 45 saves and seven steals.
"The most exciting games were against SDSU, Cal and UCSD," Presant wrote. "In all these games we put forth impressive effort as these top ranked teams with multiple strings were forced to keep in their starters."
UC Irvine 12, Brown 7
No. 8 UC-Irvine tallied goals right away, ending the first quarter up 5-0. Its tough defense allowed Brown to only get off only two shots. At halftime, the score was 7-3.
Irvine's four-goal run in the third quarter put the Bears down by eight. Brown netted four goals in the fourth quarter, but their comeback attempt fell short, and the Bears lost, 12-7.
UCLA 15, Brown 9
Brown's competition didn't get easier, as the team faced No. 3 UCLA Thursday afternoon. UCLA shut out Brown and held a 7-0 lead until 5:33 left in the second quarter, when Glick netted the Bears' first goal.
Brown pulled to within five at the half, and Glick and Stanton each scored early in the third quarter to make it 8-5. But UCLA went on a three-goal run to put the game out of reach, ending with a 15-9 victory.
Brown cruised past Cal State San Bernardino, 12-6, and Concordia University, 11-4, on the first day of the Roadrunner Invitational.
Against Cal State, Presant, Bullwinkel and Bethany Kwoka '12 led the offense with three goals apiece. Glick added two goals and four assists.
Brown proved its all-around strength against Concordia, allowing the eagles just seven shots and scoring eight goals to end the first half up 8-1. Presant led the team with six goals, while Kwoka had three and Bullwinkel and Herald Metro Editor Joanna Wohlmuth '11 each had one. Glick led the team in assists, with six.
On Saturday, Brown continued its winning steak, beating Whittier, 9-1. Brown's goals came from Presant, Wohlmuth, Stanton and Glick, and the defense kept Whittier off the scoreboard until fourth quarter.
The Bears last match of the invitational was against UC-San Diego, which ended in the Tritons' favor, 9-7.
The Bears held a 3-2 lead early, but the San Diego defense held the Bears scoreless in the second quarter, and the Tritons pulled ahead with a 4-3 lead. The teams traded goals, each scoring three, in the third quarter to make it 7-6. But UC San Diego outscored the Bears 2-1 in the fourth and came away with the win.
Kwoka was named the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Northern Division Rookie of the Week for her performance in California. She had seven goals, three assists and six steals.
"It was great playing in California and it proved invaluable to play the top 10 teams in the nation," Presant wrote. "UCLA and Hawaii were among the best competition we have played. We look forward to using what we learned in California to finish off the rest of the season strong!"
The Bears' next game will be today at Wheaton College against Hartwick.
"We get our captain Rory Stanton ('09) back this week and that will help a lot with the ability of giving more girls some rest," Mercado wrote. "We just have to keep learning from our mistakes and make sure we are playing our best ball at the end of the season. I like our chances and love this team."