Water polo breaks even, prepares for GCC Tournament

Alexander Perez, guest writer

The Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team has been around since 2009, and has never had a winning season. The closest they have come to that benchmark was hitting .500 in 2011. This year, they finished at .500 again with a record of 13-13.

The team played their last home game of the regular season on Saturday, April 22, where they lost in overtime against Cal Baptist University 11-10. This was their fifth overtime game of the season.

“We played a hard-fought game through six quarters. We never gave up. We were up, we were down,” head coach Julie Snodgrass said after the game. “We had a few breakdowns, we need to clean up a few things as a team.”

Senior attacker Megan Myers was not discouraged from the loss. In fact, she is looking forward to playing Cal Baptist again.

“Cal Baptist is always a hard game. It’s always a good banter back and forth so I am not disappointed with how we played today, one team always has to come up on top… I fully believe in the team, that we can come back with a win.”

The team also honored their two seniors, which included both Myers and center Alex Paxton that afternoon.

“They’re our captains and have had four years of maturity here. They are doing a good job of leading the culture of team cohesion and support for the rest of the girls,” Snodgrass said. “They do a good job of being there for each other. They are impacting the next generation of APU leaders that are coming through.”

While everyone recognized senior day, Myers and Paxton were still looking to continue the grind as a team, with the Golden Coast Conference (GCC) Tournament coming up.

“It’s our last home game and it’s sentimental, but we still have a whole tournament ahead of us,” Myers said. “We’re not done.”

Paxton would agree with Myers on the day and the team’s future for this season.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s been a really long four years, and this year has been a really good year,” Paxton said. “We’re still not done so it has not really sunk in yet.”

Myers is the leading scorer on the team with 38 goals. This ties her college-best she set in her freshmen year. Myers is one of the most decorated players on the team, and was named to the GCC All-Academic team three years in a row. She has scored 132 goals and has 101 assists in her career.

Senior center Alex Paxton is tied for second in both steals and hat-tricks and is tied for first in field blocks. She is more of a reliable player, who scores goals and is there to help when others on the team may be struggling.

“This team is so different from years past. We’re definitely smaller, and at times it can be looked at as a weakness, but it has definitely served as a strength for our team,” Myers said.

On April 28-30, the team will travel to Santa Clara University to conclude their season with the Golden Coast Conference tournament where all eight teams in the conference will have their chance to take home the championship.

Snodgrass said their main focus for the tournament is defense.

“Coming out and continuing to get out matchups and our defense on lockdown… You talk about hunger, and these girls want it. More than I’ve ever seen them want it,” Snodgrass said.

Azusa Pacific is looking to redeem themselves from last years’ appearance. Last year, the tournament was held in San Diego, and the Cougars lost in the first round to rival Cal Baptist. This put them in the losing bracket where they ended up beating Fresno Pacific, and ultimately lost against Santa Clara University, which is how they ended up ranked sixth in the league.

“These girls are fighters. We’ve had some really good games, some really big obstacles to overcome, and crucial injuries of key players,” Snodgrass said. “We should be healthy for the tournament. We have all good things coming together at the right time. It’s been a continuous process, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they performed exceptionally.”

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