Azusa Pacific Water Polo secured a 14-12 win to kick off Homecoming weekend here at APU.

On Friday afternoon, the women’s water polo team defeated Cal State Fullerton 14-12. The Cougars now advance to a 13-9 overall record before heading into an important next few weeks of conference play. 

But in order to focus on those games, the Cougars had to take care of business this weekend first.

The Cougars took a dominant five-to-three lead in the first quarter as all five goals were scored by different APU players.

The Titans and the Cougars scored three goals each in the second quarter, highlighted by back-to-back goals from sophomore center Shyanne Rainey.

The energy the entire game was high especially as the Cougars hopped back into the water for the second half of the game. Now up eight to six, the next few minutes were crucial for the team to maintain their lead and add a few insurance goals as well.

In the third quarter, the Cougars added four more goals from Madeline Schultz, Kyra Kahahawai, Montana White and Kaelene De Bie while the Titans only found the back of the net twice.

Heading into the final quarter of the game with a 12-8 lead, the Cougars had a few mishaps but they never cracked all the way. Although they allowed four goals in the final minutes of the game, they still managed to score two more to win outright, 14-12.

After suffering an early injury this season, freshman Daniela Herrero Miralles held it down in the goal for the Cougars as she totaled nine saves against the Titans.

“I think the team played good but I think we have to improve some things, especially for the last few games we have left. We have to take those mistakes and turn them into more goals, more stops, and ultimately, more wins,” she said.  

On behalf of her return to the goal recently, head coach Priscilla Gomez said, “It was tough not having her but now that she’s back, she gives our team a lot of motivation. When she gets a stop, she just has this winning and competitive character that we can all fall back on especially the girls in the pool with her. She doesn’t have a typical goalie size, but she manages to make some amazing stops that give our team that fire and motivation to keep going.”

Another key performance that highlighted the game was sophomore Montana White’s seven-point effort including a goal every quarter. This performance comes less than two weeks after she claimed the third-fastest time in the nation for the 500 free at the Swim and Dive DII National Championships. The All-American swimmer also had three assists this game.

White along with seven other Cougars scored a goal with four in total scoring at least two goals against the Titans.

After the game, coach Gomez added, “Today we really focused on being present and certain strategies that we’ve been working on over the week. We focused on our defense and although it wasn’t as good as we wanted, we did pull out the win. We relied on each other’s effort and sharpness to pull through.”

Next Saturday, the Cougars will resume conference play by traveling to play Cal Baptist. The team’s next home game will be Senior Day on Saturday, April 15th, where the Cougars will host SDSU at Citrus College.

Coach Gomez shared that the next three games are going to be crucial to the overall conference standings so make sure to go out and support your Cougars this Spring!