The APU water polo team capitalized off their two game win streak with a 13-5 win over University of Toronto in an exhibition game

Midseason exhibitions are not uncommon for water polo. It is a chance for both teams to improve certain aspects of their play heading into the second half of their season. Azusa Pacific not only played against Toronto but scrimmaged with their alumni as well.

“Exhibition games are great for everyone to get reps,” said eighth-year head coach Julie Snodgrass. “We have a hard matchup versus Hawaii next week, so this was great to make sure everything was on point.”

The story of the match was great defense leading to better offense for the Cougars. APU’s aggressive defense led to many scoring opportunities whereas the Blues struggled to get shots on goal.

“When preparing to play a team we want to focus on taking away their strengths,”  Snodgrass said. “For Toronto, it was their outside shooting, so we wanted to limit that.”

The Cougars only allowed the Blues to shoot 14 times compared to APU’s 35 shots. APU also notched 10 steals compared to Toronto’s seven.

APU set the tone early with a goal by freshman Milena Guzmán Ortiz off an assist by junior Sarah Adams. Adams finished with two goals, two assists and a steal.

“We wanted to focus on strong passes,” Adams said. “It was great to improve on our skills and work on capitalizing six-on-fives.” 

The Blues did not back down. They responded with a goal by junior Rhianna Wood on the power play to even the score at 1-1 in the first period with 4:48 to go. What seemed like a competitive match in the beginning quickly became lopsided as the Cougars scored five unanswered goals to take a 6-1 lead.

“Changing the momentum in our favor through strong passes is what we want to do,” said senior Marissa Joerke. “We hope that carries through to future games.”

Toronto scored two goals in the second period ending the 5-0 scoring run by the Cougars. The APU offense was slowed down in the third period. Junior Goalie Rachael Jaffe made three key saves. The third period ended with an 8-4 score and the momentum had shifted to the Blues.

The fourth period brought a different story as the Cougars outscored the Blues 5-1 to seal the win.

“Toronto’s program has made great progress. They’ve battled through some injuries, but they are a good team,” Snodgrass said.

APU will play the University of Hawai’i at Manoa on Friday, Feb. 20 at Citrus College Aquatics Center for their next game.