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Whittier, Calif. - Freshman Mahalia Prater-Fahey (San Diego, Calif.) scored on a blind backhand in front of the net with 50 seconds left in the third overtime to give the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team a 12-11 win over Redlands in the SCIAC Championship game on Sunday afternoon at Whittier.
pictured: Sagehens celebrate the game-winner from Prater-Fahey - (#10 - submerged)
With the win, the Sagehens improve to 21-16, 10-0 in the SCIAC (including regular season and postseason) and 15-0 against Division III teams, while extending their winning streak to 11 straight matches. Pomona-Pitzer will move on to the NCAA Championships in two weeks at San Diego State, allowing Prater-Fahey to return to her hometown.
Pomona-Pitzer also improved to 5-0 in overtime games against SCIAC teams, two of which went into sudden-death after still being tied after the first two extra sessions (the other was an 11-10 win over Whittier in the regular season finale). The Sagehens also won an 8-7 game in regulation against CMS in the SCIAC semifinals on Saturday.
In addition to her game-winner, Prater-Fahey (three goals) also tied the score 8-8 with 5:35 to play in the fourth quarter on a man-up goal, and neither team was able to find the net for the rest of the regulation.
The Sagehens played from behind the whole way, as they didn't take their first lead until the first overtime, when Perri Hopkins (Agoura, Calif.) put in a rebound to make the score 10-9 heading into the second extra session.
Redlands twice tied the score in the second overtime, the first at 10-10 in the first minute on a goal from Jaime Nippert off a rebound in front following a save from junior goalie Sarah Tuggy (Los Angeles, Calif.). Then, after Vicky Gyorffy (Sacramento, Calif.) scored on a lob shot to give the Sagehens their second lead, Moana Tuipulotu scored a man-up goal with 1:44 left to make the score 11-11.
Gyorffy had a man-up shot saved by Redlands goalie Julie Lupfer on the next possession, and after the Sagehens earned a stop, they had one last chance to win in regulation, but were called for a submerged ball violation. Redlands kept the ball in their defensive end for the final 10 seconds to avoid a possible counter-attack, sending the game into the third overtime.
Early on, senior Annie Oxborough-Yankus (Wallingford, Conn.) put on a shooting clinic to keep the Sagehens in the game. Oxborough-Yankus had five of the first six Sagehen goals, including all three in the first half to keep Pomona-Pitzer within 4-3. She then added two more in the third quarter to bring the Sagehens back within 7-6 after Redlands jumped out to a 6-3 lead.
Oxborough-Yankus' five goals were a game-high, while Nippert and Tuipulotu each had four for the Bulldogs and Prater-Fahey added three for the Sagehens.
Pomona-Pitzer last went to the NCAA Tournament in 2010. Oxborough-Yankus, Hopkins and junior goalie Sarah Tuggy (Los Angeles, Calif.) are the only players returning from that team, while everyone else will be making their first appearance.