March 16, 2014
San Diego, Calif.----- Freshman Clara Espar Llaquetset a new San Jose State University women's water polo freshman single-season scoring record leading the Spartans to a pair of victories and a four-match sweep of the two-day Aztec Invitational women's water polo tournament.
The #10-ranked Spartans (17-9) defeated #20-ranked Wagner, 17-7, and scored a 20-1 victory over Harvard. In the four matches, San Jose State scored 64 times and became the fourth team in school history to score more than 300 goals in a season. With at least eight matches remaining, the 2014 Spartans have 331 goals, 36 away from the school record of 377 set by the 2009 team.
Espar Llaquet accounted for 16 goals in the four Aztec Invitational wins. She was the top scorer against Wagner with a personal single-game best of six and followed up leading all players with five against Harvard. In the Wagner victory, she established a new San Jose State single-season freshman scoring record with her first goal of the match and now has 80 goals for the season matching the second best overall total at San Jose State.
"My teammates are giving me the ball at the perfect time in the perfect place. I've been working hard in practice and it is showing during the game," said the first-year player from Barcelona, Spain.
"She is everywhere. She's doing a lot to create for her teammates and herself. Also, as a team, we are doing a great job to get her open and get her the pass," said San Jose State interim head coach Johnny Bega. "Teams are coming in expecting to stop her, but a lot of teams can't stop her."
The win over Wagner was the Spartans' second in a row against a nationally-ranked team. Espar Llaquet scored four of her six goals in the first half including a power-play goal at the end of the second quarter that put the Spartans ahead to stay, 6-5, and was part of five consecutive scores bridging the two halves.
As dominant as the offense was, San Jose State yielded just 18 goals or 4.5 per match, its best figure in any of its five four-game tournaments this season. The Spartans limited previously unbeaten and #8-Princeton to a season-low six goals in a 10-6 win on March 15.
"We came in with goal in mind (to win four matches). We met it and achieved it. Our (team) defense was the most important," the Spartans' coach added. "The defense did a great job. (Goalkeepers) Katelynn (Thompson) and Maddie (Reardon) made the saves they needed to make."
While Espar Llaquet led the way offensively, 10 of the 14 field players on the trip scored at least once in the four wins. Rae Lekness, who now has 68 goals on the season, scored 10 times including three in each of the final two victories.
"We play as a team and look for each other with the next pass or the extra pass," Espar Llaquet said about the many San Jose State scoring threats.
Thompson started both final-day games in goal for San Jose State and was credited with eight saves. Reardon helped shut out Harvard in the second with eight saves and had 12 on the day.
San Jose State hopes to make it five wins in a row on Tuesday, March 18 hosting #14-ranked Indiana University (11-3) in a 4:00 p.m. match at The Aquatics Center. The Hoosiers began their West Coast trip with an 11-10 victory over #15-UC Davis.
San Jose State University women's water polo
Aztec Invitational, San Diego, Calif.
|10-San Jose State (17-9)||5||6||3||6||20|
|Harvard - Shayna Price, 1.|
|San Jose State - Clara Espar Llaquet, 5; Rae Lekness, Donia Momen, 3, each; Bianca Seyfert, Kelli Leabo, 2, each; Timi Molnar, Victoria Smith, Rachel Henry, Cara Robinson, Paige Young, 1, each.|
|Harvard - Ariel Dukes, 5.|
|San Jose State - Katelynn Thompson, 3; Maddie Reardon, 8.|
|Harvard - 1.|
|San Jose State - 6|
|#10-San Jose State (16-9)||3||3||4||7||17|
|Wagner - Megan Rodriguez, Jessica Burdge, 3, each. Jess Lundgren, 1.|
|San Jose State - Clara Espar Llaquet, 6; Rae Lekness, 3; Timi Molnar, 2; Victoria Smith, Rachel Henry, Cara Robinson, Dani Styles, Kelli Leabo, Donia Momen, 1, each.|
|Wagner - Emily Riddle, 7.|
|San Jose State - Katelynn Thompson, 5; Maddie Reardon, 4.|
|Wagner - 9.|
|San Jose State - 10.|