Saddleback College’s women’s water polo team took on No. 1 state-ranked Riverside College on Wednesday, and the outcome was of little surprise to those in and around the pool. When the buzzer rang, Saddleback was on the short end of the 20-2 final score.
“Just look at the bright side,” said spectator Amir Zand, 18, psychology, “At least we’re not down by 20.”
Besides Zand’s take on the game, women’s head coach Jennifer Higginson seemed fairly pleased, despite the heavily one-sided total at the game’s end.
“Our whole job today was to come out today and just run some different plays and offenses,” Higginson said. “So, by the end of the season, we can be as good as we can be.”
Saddleback couldn’t keep pace with the overwhelming Tiger offense as well as defense. Riverside’s shooting was nearly unstoppable despite a valiant effort by goalkeeper Kristina Bailey.
RCC’s mid-pool defense held strong, limiting the number of shots by the Gauchos. Their goalkeeper was at the top of her game, with 16 stops.
The Tigers are ranked at the top of the list, and are the only undefeated team in the state, with recorded victories against Miramar (21-2), Santa Ana (15-3), and Fresno (15-4). On average, their victory margin is 11 points per game.
Riverside recently had a match-up against No. 2 ranked Long Beach and came away with a 10-point victory margin against the Vikings.
Though Wednesday was a tough loss, Saddleback has little to be ashamed of, losing to a top-ranked team that beat their closest competition so soundly.
Higginson used the game as a learning experience for her young squad to prepare for their upcoming Mt. SAC Tournament on Saturday, Sept 22.
“We’re using today as a way to show us some of the things we need to work on with the defense,” Higginson said. “We ran some good plays that worked well, but we just have a few things we need to fine-tune.”
With the loss, the Gauchos’ record dropped to 3-3 (0-2).
Saddleback will return to the pool Wednesday when it faces off with Cypress on the road. The game starts at 3 p.m.