Water polo scores 12 on Senior Night in regular season finale
Azusa Pacific had everything to play for in their final home game of the season against Concordia. Coming in at 14-14, the Cougars were looking to secure their first winning season since entering NCAA Division II and to send their two outstanding seniors off in style. APU took control early and never looked back, beating Concordia 12-4.
“We had a generally positive attitude,” senior goalkeeper Erica Marquez said regarding her thoughts on her last home game as a Cougar. “We were happy that we were able to give all that we did to the program and accomplish what we came here to accomplish and this was kind of a farewell. It wasn’t sad, it was a happy moment.”
The Cougars took the lead just two minutes into the game on a goal by senior attacker Britt Harris. With two minutes remaining in the quarter, Harris again found herself on the stat sheet when she assisted Mar Pastor Alvarez. Freshman attacker Britni Tisdale put the finishing touches on the quarter with a goal of her own to put Azusa Pacific up 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“We knew that they were stronger. After the first quarter, I came out and thought ‘yeah, they’re a lot stronger than they were in the past,’” Harris said. “It wasn’t nervousness, it was more the thought that we can’t slip up at all. We have to continue to push through, and I think our team showed that.”
Sophomore driver Sarah Adams kicked off the second quarter, scoring just under one minute in. However, Concordia found some life with about four minutes in the half, when Kelley Geurts got one back for the Eagles. Not long after that, the Cougars would add on to their lead, thanks to another strike from Tisdale. Azusa Pacific went into the half with a 5-1 lead over Concordia.
Both teams struggled to find the back of the net early in the third quarter, but about midway through the period, Harris put one away, making the score 6-1. Concordia would then strike twice in a row, with goals from Ramsie Haskell and Dailynn Santoro. The Cougars would shut that comeback attempt down in a hurry as Tisdale, again, struck twice in the closing minute of the third quarter, extending the APU lead to 8-3.
Santoro opened the fourth quarter with a goal for the Eagles, but that would be the end of their offensive push in the game. The Cougars’ offense, however, could not be stopped. Freshman Gabrielle Martinez scored with four minutes remaining, then junior Marissa Joerke added a goal with 90 seconds left. Pastor Alvarez added another just 30 seconds later, and Harris finished off her hat-trick in the dying seconds of the game.
Seniors Erica Marquez and Britt Harris finished their careers with APU in style. Harris scored over 150 goals in her career and was named an All-American as a sophomore. Marquez has over 600 career saves for the Cougars and is on the verge of setting the Azusa Pacific school record for career steals.
Head Coach Julie Snodgrass reflected on their four years at Azusa Pacific.
“Their recruiting class was really instrumental in, not just intensity and talent level, but in their competitive drive. They’re very excellent at their respective positions, Britt has been starting since her freshman year, she was on the All-Freshman team, she was an All-American as a sophomore. Sometimes she does a move and I’m thinking ‘wow she made that look like child’s play.’ She is just fun to watch,” Snodgrass said. “Erica is also super tenacious, super dedicated, super focused and the level of intensity and competition they brought to the program, in addition to the talent, was super necessary and super instrumental in bringing us where we are today.”
Azusa Pacific will head into the Golden Coast Conference as the fourth seed in the eight-seed bracket. The Cougars will play Fresno State on Friday, April 27, who they beat 9-8 in their previous matchup in Fresno, to open up the tournament.