Women’s water polo returned to the Otter Tank on Jan. 29 to face off against the Santa Clara Broncos for the first home game of the season.
The Otters started the game strong with Catalina Gillis (#2), winning the opening sprint against Santa Clara’s Lauren Voss (#18). The energy stayed strong throughout the rest of the first quarter with goals from Laura Heberle (#6), Olivia Centis ( #8), and Zoe Reid (#12) for California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), and goals from Chloe Morisson (#15) and Lauren Baglietto (#2) for Santa Clara University (SCU). The Otters took the lead at the end of the first quarter with a 3-2 score.
CSUMB kept the momentum going throughout the second quarter thanks to Cecile Judy (#2), who scored two back-to-back goals early on with assists from Allyson Ainsworth (#18) and Shelby Fortune (#15). SCU responded with a goal from Lauren Baglietto (#2), assisted by Voss. The Otters continued to pull ahead with goals from Centis, Gillis, and Fortune, cementing their lead going into the second half of the game.
The third quarter started out with shot attempts and turnovers from both teams. The brief stalemate was broken by Centis scoring for the Otters about halfway through the quarter. SCU responded shortly afterward with a goal from Maddie Clough (#12) assisted by Elle Fredrickson (#14).
The tug of war for dominance continued for the rest of the quarter with great shot attempts and blocks from both teams. CSUMB goalie Megan Taylor (#1) and SCU goalie Georgia Lewis (#1B) showed their skill in the cages keeping both teams with one goal apiece for the remainder of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started off with a goal from SCU’s Fredrickson, scoring in a man-up opportunity. The Otters quickly rose to the challenge with a goal of their own from Emma Silveria (#17). The Broncos and the Otters traded goals back and forth with SCU scoring twice (#17 Kelly Frumkin, #14 Elle Fredrickson) and CSUMB pulling out one final goal from #15 Shelby Fortune before the end of the game. The Otters solidified their win with a final score of 11-7.
This game marked a monumental milestone for the Otters, being their first home game since the COVID-19 pandemic started back in 2019.
“It feels totally normal! And it’s about time, it’s been so long,” said head coach Emily Schmit. “It’s been 689 days! So to have The Otter Tanks stands packed, team benches on fire, and people in the pool playing, it’s what we’re supposed to be doing. So it feels great to be back.”
Coach Schmits sentiments were mirrored by her team, their energy and joy to be back in the pool very prominent throughout the game.
“It’s a new feeling,” said senior Oliva Centis. “It’s really good, and with every one new on the team, they bring so much energy. It feels really great to be back at our own pool.”
The Otters’ next game is on the road against San Jose State on Feb. 12. at noon. For more information on game schedules visit the Otter Athletics Website.