Otters face off against Sunbirds in close match

Women’s water polo faced off against the Fresno Pacific University (FPU) Sunbirds on Saturday, March 12. Both teams brought a palpable energy to the Otter Tank at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), but in the end the Sunbirds persevered with a final score of 11-10.

Shelby Fortune (#15) started the game off strong for the Otters, winning the sprint and awarding her team the first possession. After a series of shots from both teams, FPU’s Camryn Berra (#1A) got called out by the official for an exclusion, drawn by CSUMB’s Cali Havens (#9), and had to return to FPUs corner. Zoe Reid (#12) took the advantage from the exclusion and scored a goal for the Otters, getting the first point of the game on the board.

The Sunbirds responded drawing an exclusion of their own; Hannah Walker (#16) drew the call against Reid. However, Fresno Pacific wasn’t able to make the point conversion due to a missed shot by Walker. The next possession for the Otters resulted in a goal from Olivia Centis (#8), with an assist by Lauren Tang (#13).

The second period started off with Abigail Summers (#14) winning the sprint for CSUMB, beating FPU’s Rosemary Chapman (#5) to the ball. Catalina Gillis (#2) took a shot at the goal for the Otters but was blocked by the Sunbirds goalie Berra. The teams battled for the next few possessions, with the stalemate being broken by a goal from Amy Zaninovich (#2), assisted by Natalie Kisling (#12) for FPU. Wanting to carry the scoring momentum forward, Zaninovich fires a shot for the Sunbirds.

However, they were denied by CSUMB’s goalie, Megan Taylor (#1). Their second attempt was good and Tatum Benson (#7) added another point on the board for the Sunbirds. Another scoring attempt was made by Natalie Kisling (#12). This time it was tipped away by a field block from the Otters Amanda Bennett (#7). The Otters next goal came from Olivia Centis (#8), assisted by Gilis.

The game went into halftime, with the score at 5-7, with CSUMB in the lead.

The third period started with the Otters’s Kaitlin Rooney (#5) winning the sprint for the ball against the Sunbirds’s Kisling. However, CSUMB’s possession was short lived with FPU’s Zaninovich stealing the ball. Zaninovich passed the ball to her teammate Walker, who got the ball in the back of the net, scoring another point on the board for the Sunbirds.

The Otters answered with a goal of their own, by Rooney and Centis. A series of shot attempts followed from both teams, but FPUs broke the pattern when center offensive player Sam Dieterle (#4) put the ball in the cage. The rest of third period was a tug of war between the Otters and the Sunbirds, neither team managing to change the score before the clock expired.

The fourth period started with FPU breaking CSUMB’s sprint win streak. The Sunbirds’s Chapman beat the Otters’s Rooney to the ball. The period started with a penalty foul against CSUMB’s Haven. FPU’s Emily Lopez-Ibarra (#15) took the five-meter attempt and scored for the Sunbirds, leaving the game tied at 8 points for each team.

With some sense of irony, Lopez-Ibarra was excluded next and sent to FPU’s corner, allowing Havens to score, breaking the tie in the Otters favor. The next scoring opportunity came from The Sunbirds’s Chapman who once again tied the game. An exclusion was then called, which sent Shelby Fortune (#15) back to CSUMB’s corner. This allowed Zaninovich to score and break the tie in FPUs favor. Laura Heberle (#6) put one in the back of the net for the Otters, bringing the game into a tie for the third time. Chapman responded seconds later with a goal of her own, launching FPU into the lead with 2 minutes left on the clock.

The rest of the quarter saw CSUMB making multiple shot attempts, however none of them seemed to find the back of the cage and the game clock expired with FPU at 11 points and CSUMB at 10 points.

The Otters next game is at Biola University on March 18 at 7 p.m. For more information visit otterathletics.com.

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