Gaucho women slay Santa Ana at water polo in their home pool. ( Alyssa Hunter/ Lariat)
The women’s water polo team at Saddleback College triumphed against Santa Ana last Wednesday, winning by a close score of 12-10.
Throughout the game, the score was unnervingly close and almost never wavered from a point ahead or below. According to the coach and audience members, it was a unique game.
“It was such a great game because it was back and forth, back and forth. Then there was the tie. Then they were up two at the very end. They played excellent, just really good strategy toward the end of the game,” said Mike Hall, who had been watching the game from the stands.
The coach, Jennifer Higginson, was proud of her team and was seen giving them pep talks during timeouts and between quarters.
“I’m really proud of them, they came away with a win. They had a lot of patience at the end, and every single person contributed in that game,” Higginson said. “We had shots from everybody and I’d have to say that the person that was an all standout would be our goalie, Jessica Barr. Really proud of all of them.”
While Santa Ana desperately tried to get past the goalie, Barr managed to keep the ball and the opposing team as far away from her as possible.
The two teams were constantly in a tie, starting from the first quarter all the way to the fourth quarter.
“The tie scared the heck out of me,” Barr said. “That was really frightening, but I just had to keep [watching the ball] and put the score out of my mind. Every time I saw their star player I just had to focus on the ball.”
In the first quarter, the score was 1-0, so the beginning was a little slow but gradually picked up speed in the second quarter.
There was difficulties again in the second quarter, with each team determined to score more points than the other but managed to tie 5-5. There was obvious tension to break the tie and it showed in the next quarter.
Although it was an incentive to the teams to break the tie during the third quarter, it was a mild part of the game, with another unusual tie of 7-7.
In the fourth quarter, however, the game picked up and the score went from 8-7 with Saddleback in the lead. A tie was slowly forming until the score reached 10-10 then it was no longer a tie, and the final score was 12-10.
“We came through in the end, but it was frustrating for the first three quarters, but the fourth quarter was nice,” said Rachel Novelli, a player on the Saddleback team.
The unwavering tie was a definite anxiety for many of the players and although it was a constant throughout the game, the last quarter was the real tie-breaker.
“I was actually impressed that we kept fighting and that we never gave up. We fought until the end. I was just glad that I was able to step up and do something for the team because they’ve been behind me,” Higginson said.
“It’s usually not back to back like that, so it was a pretty stressful game. Both teams had really good shooters and that’s one of the reasons,” Higginson said. “It came down to more of a defensive game than an offensive game at the end because it was tied up every single second.”