Stanford, Calif.----- After losing a pair of final day matches to two top-10 ranked teams, San Jose State University finished sixth in the eight-team Stanford Invitational women's water polo tournament.
The #16-ranked Spartans (3-7) missed out in a 10-9 loss to #7-Michigan and lost 18-7 to #6-ranked UC Irvine.
"As a team, it was a great learning experience for us -- another hard tournament with a good lineup of teams to face. We learned from each game and applied what we learned into the next game," said San Jose State's Sierra Painter, who scored three goals in four matches.
"It was a way to grow individually and as a unit. Obviously, we're not happy with our record, but it was a good learning experience. We hope to take it to future tournaments and games."
In its morning match with Michigan, San Jose State had a pair of one-goal first quarter leads and was tied with the Wolverines, 4-4, at the start of the second quarter after Carla Toha Vilanova scored the third of her match-high five goals.
Despite trailing 6-5 at halftime and 10-7 with less than two minutes remaining the Spartans staged a comeback that fell short as the buzzer sounded. Klaudia Paradi scored her season-high third goal for San Jose State at the 1:44 mark. After a steal by McKenna Yates of the Spartans, Toha Vilanova poured in her final goal of the match at 1:28 to narrow the margin to 10-9.
"Even though the score did not come out as we wanted, we were pleased with our fight and our resiliency to keep fighting."
Michigan (5-3) turned over the ball on a shot clock violation with 0:07 left in regulation. Painter fired a potential game-tying shot on goal that bounced off the cage back to Yates who took aim at the buzzer, but was wide to the left.
"We're still far away from being perfect. We made a lot of mistakes. We missed a lot of opportunities that we couldn't convert in that game (against Michigan)," said San Jose State head coach Gabor Sarusi who acknowledged the Spartans' had their best match against a top-10 ranked team to date this season.
Playing for fifth-place, the Spartans yielded three power-play goals as UC Irvine jumped out to a 4-0 lead late in the first-quarter. San Jose State answered with consecutive goals by Yates, Painter and Toha Vilanova, but the Anteaters scored the next three goals and were never seriously challenged after that.
Toha Vilanova finished the day as San Jose State's leading scorer with seven and nine for the four-match tournament.
"All in all, it gave us a chance to (put in) practice our new systems and focus on what we need to do. Everyone got a chance to work on them," said co-captain Cara Robinson, who agreed with Painter that there were several bright spots in the Michigan match.
"Everyone needed to take on a new role. We need a lot of people to step up, everyone finding their role within the team and being comfortable with their responsibilities," Robinson said about the early-season play.
"We played a lot of people to get game experience against top teams," added the San Jose State head coach about the Stanford Invitational. Sarusi foresees an emphasis on team film sessions to correct mistakes before returning to action Sunday, February 19, in the UC Davis Shootout #2. The Spartans will face Pacific and Occidental.
Host Stanford, the #1-ranked team nationally, won the tournament with a 10-7 win over #4-California.
Stanford Invitational women's water polo tournament
Belardi Pool, Stanford, Calif.
February 5, 2017
|Match 15 (Fifth-place match)||1||2||3||4||Total|
|#16-San Jose State (3-7)||2||3||2||0||7|
|#6-UC Irvine (4-2)||4||5||5||4||18|
|San Jose State -- Carla Toha Vilanova, Sierra Painter, 2, each; Klaudia Paradi, Donia Momen, McKenna Yates, 1, each.|
|UC Irvine -- Mary Brooks, 5; Kelsey Thornton, McKenna Mitchell, 3, each; Cambria Shockley, 2; Mackenzie Milham, Cara Borkovec, RTeagan Castillo, Natalie Seidemann, 1, each.|
|San Jose State -- Katelynn Thompson (2 quarters), 6; Tayler Peters (12 minutes), 2; Shannon Spence (4 minutes), 1.|
|UC Irvine -- Jenna Phreaner, 4.|
|San Jose State -- 8.|
|UC Irvine -- 6.|
|#16-San Jose State (3-6)||3||2||2||2||9|
|San Jose State -- Carla Toha Vilanova, 5; Klaudia Paradi, 3; Sheila Jensen, 1.|
|Michigan -- Caroline Anderson, 3; Julia Sellers, Kim Johnson, 2, each; Danielle Johnson, Maddy Steers, Allison Skaggs, 1, each.|
|San Jose State -- Katelynn Thompson, 6.|
|Michigan -- Heidi Ritner, 8.|
|San Jose State -- 7.|
|Michigan -- 2.|