San Jose, Calif.----- Despite scoring the first three goals of the match within the opening four minutes, San Jose State University needed single goals at the end of regulation and in the second overtime before losing to the University of California, 10-9, in the second sudden-victory extra period of a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) women's water polo match.
Reserve Emily Loughlin of the #4-ranked Golden Bears (15-4, 1-1 MPSF) scored the game-winner at 2:30 of the second sudden-victory three-minute stanza placing her shot in the left corner of the cage past Spartan goalkeeper Katelynn Thompson for the win. The Cal win stopped a three-match losing streak and kept San Jose State (16-6, 0-2 MPSF) from winning its fifth in a row and first in conference play.
"We gave everything we had. Cal came up with one more goal. Both teams are great teams," said San Jose State head coach Johnny Bega. "We could have given up going down two goals in the fourth. Our team never gives up. They came forward. It was a great game.
"Our entire team did an awesome job."
The #9-ranked Spartans (16-6, 0-2 MPSF) capitalized early on their first two power plays with scores by Rae Lekness and a counter-attack goal by Bianca Seyfert for the 3-0 lead. But, by the end of the first quarter, the Golden Bears had tied the score and were in the middle of a five-goal run on San Jose State. Roser Tarrago, whose beginning-of-the-quarter sprinting proved crucial in the extra periods, gave Cal a 4-3 advantage on a power play at 6:32 of the second quarter. Her second power-play score of the quarter came with 33 seconds left giving the Golden Bears a 6-4 halftime lead.
"(Before the match) We said we have to go at them now, make them come back and put their backs to the wall. We had to do that and press them the entire time. They have great shooters. That's why they are the number-four team in the nation," the Spartans' coach said about their pre-game strategy. "We said if we set the tone, they would have their backs to the wall."
San Jose State turned out to be the team in comeback mode battling back from a pair of two-goal deficits in the second half. The Spartans also trailed 9-8 after the first possession of the opening overtime period.
Clara Espar Llaquet, the Spartans' leading scorer and hounded throughout the contest by the pesky Cal defense closed the deficit to 8-7 with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter on her 68th goal of the season. Lekness poured in her third goal of the match and reached the 50-goal plateau for the third consecutive season on a 6-on-4 power play with 22.7 seconds to send the match into two overtime periods.
Thompson and California goalkeeper Madeline Trabucco were magnificent as their team's last line of defense. Trabucco was credited with eight saves including a penalty shot taken by Espar Llaquet with 12.2 seconds left in the third quarter. Thompson stopped 10 Cal shots including two in the final minute of the fourth quarter to force overtime.
"Cal is capable of scoring 15 to 20 goals (in a match). For us to keep them to 10 goals and take them an extra four periods, that says a lot. 10-9 actually is not a high-scoring match," reflected Bega, whose team is winless this season in the three games that went extra periods. He also complimented the Spartans for their overall defense limiting Cal's leading scorer Dora Antal to two scores in regulation. Antal came into the match with 48 goals scored.
Tarrago won each of the four sprints to open an extra period and Cal capitalized in the first overtime when she notched her third goal of the match to share match-high scoring honors with Espar Llaquet and Lekness. Espar Llaquet scored San José State's only goal in the four extra periods at 2:32 of the second overtime after a Cal turnover.
Neither team scored in the first sudden-victory period, but Tarrago's fifth sprint win of the match set up Loughlin who converted on just her second shot of the game for her 15th goal of the season.
"It was a good contest. Johnny (Bega) had his kids ready to play. I told him after the game he should go back to Boston more often. Whatever they did back there at Harvard sure helped them," said Cal coach Rich Corso, who subbed out his entire starting lineup of six field players after the Spartans went up 3-0. "They (San Jose State) jumped on us and we told them they were going to try and come out and put us down quickly. Some of them (the Cal players) listened and some of them didn't."
The sudden-victory match was just the third in San José State's history and first since April 1, 2001 when the Spartans lost, 7-6, to Long Beach State. Cal played its first overtime of the match of the season and won its second sudden-victory match in the last 12 months. The Golden Bears defeated Arizona State, 8-7, in the 2014 MPSF Tournament's third-place game in sudden victory time.
San Jose State returns to action, Saturday, March 21, at Arizona State in a MPSF contest. The Spartans also have non-conference matches against Hartwick and Redlands scheduled on March 22 to complete a three-match, two-day trip.
San Jose State University Women's Water Polo
The Aquatics Center, San Jose, Calif.
March 14, 2015
|Score By periods||1||2||3||4||OT1||OT2||SV1||SV2||Total|
|#4-California (15-4, 1-1 MPSF)||3||3||2||0||1||0||0||1||10|
|#9-San José State (16-6, 0-2 MPSF)||3||2||1||2||0||1||0||0||9|
|California - Roser Tarrago, 3; Dora Antal, Sierra Smiley, 2, each; Tiera Schroeder, Kindred Paul, Emily Loughlin, 1, each.|
|San Jose State - Rae Lekness, Clara Espar Llaquet, 3 each; Bianca Seyfert, 2; Cara Robinson, 1.|
|California - Madeline Trabucco, 8.|
|San Jose State - Katelynn Thompson, 10.|
|California - 17.|
|San Jose State - 12.|