Junior driver Alyssa Hess contributed with two goals on Saturday, March 22 when the Cougars faced Pacific and Redlands. Photo credit: Kimberly Smith

It began last Friday with the Golden Coast Conference debut against Fresno Pacific. The Azusa Pacific women’s water polo team pulled off a handy 11-7 victory against the Sunbirds March 21. The following day, the Cougars suffered a close loss to Pacific, 12-8. Ending their weekend against Redlands, APU dominated, taking the match 11-3.

The Redlands game saw hat tricks from junior utility players Angelina Castaneda and Courtney Folsom. The three games from this weekend put the APU team at 14-15 for the season.

Even in their loss against Pacific, the Cougars fought hard right through to the very end, with junior utility player Taylor Whitney and sophomore utility player Maryann Slama scoring twice each. Sophomore goalkeeper Katie Margot delivered as well, making 13 saves.

APU and Pacific scored back and forth to open the match. Slama and Castaneda each scored one and the Tigers matched them, tying the game 2-2 at the eight-minute mark. Fresno Pacific went on to score three straight goals, which were answered by Whitney, sophomore utility player Alynn Reade and Whitney again.

The beginning of the second half saw a downturn, with three goals from Pacific with only one Cougar goal to answer it. The Tigers opened the fourth quarter with three goals, putting the score at 11-6. Reade and junior driver Alyssa Hess each scored to cut the deficit, but the Tigers came out on top, 12-8.

The Redlands match saw a commanding performance by the Cougars. They opened the first quarter with three goals, two from Castaneda and one from senior utility player Allison Gonzalez. Castaneda secured her third in the second quarter before Redlands cut the lead in half with two scores of its own.

Folsom put another one past the keeper before the end of half to put the score at 5-2.

The second half was even more definitive, APU outscoring the Bulldogs 6-1. Folsom scored two more in the third, and the fourth saw one each from Hess, Slama, Gonzalez and freshman driver Megan Myers.

The Cougars will be hitting the pool again Friday at 5 p.m. in a home match against No. 17-ranked Santa Clara.