Sagehens Advance To SCIAC Championship With 8-7 Win Over CMS

Whittier, Calif. - Annie Oxborough-Yankus (Wallingford, Conn.) scored on a five-meter shot with 1:59 left in the game to break a 7-7 tie, and junior goalie Sarah Tuggy (Los Angeles, Calif. - pictured) had a save at the buzzer as the top-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team, ranked No. 1 in Division III, defeated CMS 8-7 in the SCIAC semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Whittier.

With the win, the Sagehens improve to 20-16 overall, 9-0 against SCIAC opponents and 14-0 against Division III teams on the year and will advance to tomorrow's championship game against second-seeded Redlands, with the winner of that game earning the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman Sarah Westcott (Menlo, Calif.) drew the winning five-meter penalty in front of the net right after CMS had tied the score on a five-meter shot of its own. Oxborough-Yankus took the shot and buried it in the back of the net for her third goal of the game, before stealing the ball on the ensuing possession to help Pomona-Pitzer kill another 30 seconds off the clock.

CMS then had two chances to win in the final minute, but Kristina Norrgard missed high on a redirection from in front of the net on the first one. Pomona-Pitzer then took a deliberate shot clock violation with 12 seconds to go and CMS called its final time-out. The Athenas were able to get a good look from the left side of the net, but Tuggy rotated over and blocked the shot at the near post as time expired.

Perri Hopkins (Agoura, Calif.) put the Sagehens ahead 7-6 on a rebound with 2:30 to play. However, CMS was awarded a five-meter shot on the next possession and Alex Toohey converted to tie the score 7-7 with 2:12 left.

With the score tied 5-5 in the fourth quarter, Oxborough-Yankus ripped a shot inside the near post on a 6-on-5 to give the Sagehens a 6-5 lead. Alyssa Filippelli, though, answered on a 6-on-5 right back on the next possession to tie the score 6-6.

Pomona-Pitzer got off to a slow start, as it fell behind 4-2 in the first quarter. Kerstin Henshall (Moraga, Calif.) put the Sagehens ahead 2-1 on a counter, but CMS scored the next three goals in succession to lead 4-2 at the end of the first.

Pomona-Pitzer's two senior captains then stepped up in the early minutes of the second quarter, as Oxborough-Yankus scored on a 6-on-5 and Hopkins scored on a counter to even the score up at 4-4, where the score stood at halftime.

Mahalia Prater-Fahey (San Diego, Calf.) gave Pomona-Pitzer a 5-4 lead early in the third quarter, but the Sagehens missed several chances to take a bigger lead, as Athena goalie Taylor Basso came up with several saves, including one on a five-meter. With just two seconds left in the third quarter, the Sagehens were called for a foul on a breakaway and CMS converted the five-meter shot to even the score 5-5.

The entire second half was played with either Pomona-Pitzer up by a goal, or with a tie score, as the Sagehens prevented CMS from ever taking a lead after halftime. 

Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands will face each other for the championship tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. The teams have played twice this season, with the Sagehens winning both, a 13-7 win at La Verne's tournament back in February and a 9-7 regular season win at Redlands on April 4.