25th ranked Cougars fall to fifth ranked Hawai’i 13-7

Azusa Pacific’s water polo squad entered their game on Wednesday with a record of 5-7, riding a three game win streak. However, they faced a difficult hurdle in the fifth ranked University of Hawai’i at Manoa, who came in with an 8-1 record. Hawai’i’s luck kept up as  they defeated APU 13-7.

Despite the lopsided score, the shot total remained fairly even throughout. At halftime, Hawai’i led in shots 13-11, and at the end of the game the two shot differential remained with a 27-25 total.

It was the shooting percentage that made the difference, as APU shot .280 in the game, while Hawai’i shot .481. Hawai’i goalie Bridget Layburn remained strong throughout, finishing the match with eight saves.

“We forced them into some tough situations, but we didn’t play our best total game,” said head coach Julie Snodgrass. “They seemed to consistently capitalize on our mistakes while we didn’t always capitalize on theirs. I think that was the biggest difference.”

Both teams locked down on defense in the first quarter, which ended with Hawai’i leading 2-1. In the first quarter Hawai’i collected three turnovers while APU gathered two.

The offense picked up in the second quarter, with a total of 15 shots taken. Hawai’i’s lead increased to 8-3. Hawai’i continued to execute in the second half as their strong passing game allowed for several open shots on goal.

Hawai’i was led by junior Elyse Lemay-Lavoie, who finished with five goals, and freshman Maxine Schapp, who collected six points through four goals and two assists. APU’s best performers were junior Mireia Tutusaus Alcaraz, who finished with two assists, and sophomore Hannah Bradley, who finished with three goals.

“It’s always a challenge to play a nationally ranked opponent such as them, but it’s also good for our motivation” Alcaraz said. “We can use an opponent like this to become better, and there were a lot of positives to gain from this game.”

Despite their opponents impressive performance, APU continued to battle strenuously in the second half, nearly keeping pace with four goals compared to Hawai’i’s five. Bradley said the team’s play reflected more than the score did.

“We don’t really look at the final score as a testament to our team. It’s more about how we feel about our individual performances,” Bradley said. “When someone doesn’t feel strong about their game, we always support them and make sure they don’t keep their head down.”

The Cougars next competition will come in the Cal Lutheran Tina Finali Invitational in Thousand Oaks. Their first match of the invitational is on Friday, Feb. 22 against Fresno Pacific. The tournament will conclude with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 23 against Cal Lutheran and Sonoma State.