The women’s water polo team had their season-opener games this past weekend. The team traveled up to Bucknell for what would be a three-game series against Bucknell, Mercyhurst, and St. Francis Brooklyn. They ultimately faced off against Princeton at home.
The first game of the season was against Bucknell, whom the team had defeated towards the end of their previous season. The Explorers were off to a hot start at the beginning of the game, going up an early 2-0 at the end of the quarter thanks to graduate student Madison Martinez, who managed to find the back of the net. The Bisons were able to strike back against the Explorers at the beginning of the second quarter, eventually tying the game at 4-4. Bucknell was able to gain the upper hand and headed into the third quarter leading 6-4. The Explorers were able to bring the game to 6-7, and continued trading goals with the Bisons. Ultimately, though, the Explorers faced defeat, 10-9.
Their second game was against Mercyhurst, whom the team had no problem dealing with in previous seasons. Mercyhurst started the game off strong, winning the initial swim-off against sophomore Mia Mattingly. Despite this setback, an early goal from Martinez allowed the Explorers to gain the lead in the beginning of the game. The Explorers finished the first quarter 7-0, and continued their defensive streak in the second quarter, with junior Goalkeeper Emma Gurasich not allowing any goals in the first half. Ultimately, the Explorers defeated Mercyhurst 22-3.
After this win, their last game on the road was against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Explorers were coming off of their hot win against Mercyhurst, and were looking to continue their winning streak. The Explorers started off the game relatively slow, but were able to get the gears going. Graduate student Kalista Hyham led the Explorers in offense, recording a season-high five goals in the game. Hyham went 71.4 percent in shooting in the game, and was a vital part, both offensively and defensively, in the team’s 15-4 win over SFB.
Lastly, the women’s team traveled back to 20th and Olney to face off against the Princeton Tigers, who were coming off of a two-game losing streak. The team, hoping to continue their win streak and get a momentous victory over the Tigers, came into the game full of energy. The Explorers finished the first quarter down 2-1 thanks to a goal from Sarah Defusco and many defensive stops. The Explorers fought minute after minute, but ultimately, it seemed like the fatigue of playing 3 road games in a matter of a day and a half got to them, and they were unable to emerge victorious against the Tigers. The Explorers fell to the Tigers 10-8.
While the team went 2-2 over the weekend, there was nothing but positive notes. The way the team adapted to the much larger pool at Bucknell could be seen in both of their victories over the weekend. The defensive efforts from the team can be seen in the small number of goals that were let in, which can be attributed to junior Goalkeeper Emma Gurasich as well as assistant coach Veljko Kotarica, who I’ve been told has played a significant part in the team’s off-season. If this weekend of play is any indication for what is to come, many exciting water polo games are coming to Kirk Pool this season.