La Verne topples Azusa Pacific, Cal State Monterey Bay

La Verne topples Azusa Pacific, Cal State Monterey Bay

CLAREMONT, Calif. — The La Verne women's water polo team put the rest of the SCIAC on notice with upset victories over NCAA Division II Azusa Pacific and Cal State Monterey Bay on the first day of the 2017 Claremont Convergence on Friday at Axelrood Aquatic Center.

Azusa Pacific and Cal State Monterey came into the day with a combined 6-0 record against SCIAC opponents—including the Otters' 14-9 win over La Verne in the season opener—but the Leopards held both in check.

Stephanie Rosero and Guarina Garcia combined for seven goals to lead the Leopards past Azusa Pacific 9-6 in the first game.

The game was a huge test for the Leopards and they passed it with flying colors. The Cougars have already beaten Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier—all of whom finished in the top-4 in 2016 along with La Verne and figure to be contenders again this year—and provided La Verne with barometer to see where it stands early in the season.

Rosero finished with four goals and Garcia had three. The Leopards played with discipline and efficiency, limiting power play opportunites for Azusa Pacific while converting their own man-up opportunities at a 75 percent clip (6-for-8).

The two teams matched each other goal-for-goal to start the game before La Verne pulled away with a 4-0 run starting in the second quarter. Jasmine Bustamante gave the Leopards a 4-3 lead with La Verne's first even-strength goal of the game and Rosero scored with 2:02 remaining in the half to put the Leopards up by two goals at the break.

La Verne shut the Cougars out in the third period and Garcia scored a pair of goals to stake the Leopards out to a 7-3 lead. Azusa Pacific stopped the bleeding with a couple of unanswered goals in the fourth quarter but Rosero tucked away a powerplay chance and Bustamante put in the dagger goal with 1:53 left to go.

The Leopards were active with their hands on defense. Garcia swiped four steals, Candice Vorbeck stole four and Teresa Zuniga took away three.

Delaney Moller got the assignment in net for La Verne and came up with seven saves.

Azusa Pacific's Megan Myers had two goals and four steals.

Rosero scored four total goals against Cal State Monterey Bay, including three in the fourth quarter and overtime, to lead the Leopards an 8-7 win.

Rosero tied the game at 6-6 with 2:53 left to go in regulation and neither team found the net for the rest of the period. About a minute into the first overtime period, Hayley Cates netted her first goal of the day to give the Leoaprds a 7-6 lead. The Otters' Marisa Lovos answered at the other end to tie it back up.

With just 8 seconds left in first overtime, Rosero put one past CSUMB goalie Morgen Fain for the game winner and her final tally of the day.

Guarina Garcia made her presence felt all over the pool, scoring a goal, drawing four exclusions and grabbing seven more steals.

Cates, Bustamange and Heather Barba each had one goal.

Unlike the first game, La Verne couldn't get their powerplay offense rolling, going just 1-for-11 on the game. But the Leopards locked it down on the defensive end. After giving up the first two goals of the game on powerplay, the Leopards killed nine straight CSUMB powerplays to stay within striking distance.

The Otters held the Leopards to just a single goal in the opening half but the Leopards broke through for three unanswered goals in the third quarter to take the first lead of the game.

The Leopards return to action tomorrow for another pair of games against upper division opponents at Haldeman Pool (Pomona-Pitzer). The Leopards face Division II Fresno Pacific at 8 a.m. and conclude the tournament with a tilt against No. 12 Division I UC Santa Barbara at 2:15 p.m.