San Jose, Calif.----- San Jose State University exploded for four goals in a 2:01 span covering the end of the first and the start of the second quarters en route to a 14-9 win over CSU Bakersfield in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) women's water polo match.
The #8-ranked Spartans (19-9, 1-5 MPSF) ended a two-match losing streak in the regular-season finale for both teams. The 14 goals were a MPSF high for San Jose State which was limited to six in each of its two recent losses to then #2-Stanford and #3-USC.
Trailing 2-1 midway through the first quarter, junior Rae Lekness ignited the Spartans' rally with her first of three goals on the day with 55 seconds remaining in the quarter. Lekness, the team's second-leading scorer for the season, pounded in her second of the match at 6:54 of the second quarter for a 5-2 lead following scores by freshman McKenna Yates at the end of the first quarter and senior Timi Molnar on San José State's first second-quarter possession.
"I always felt Timi is our heart and soul. She gives so much to our team. She brings a liveliness to the game. She loves the game," San José State head coach Johnny Bega said about Molnar returning to the lineup for the first time in three weeks.
The Spartans dominated the second quarter outscoring CSU Bakersfield (12-15, 0-6 MPSF), 6-to-2. San José State led by as many as six twice. The first time came at the 2:00 mark of the second quarter when sophomore Donia Momen scored her first of two goals for a 9-3 Spartan advantage.
"Bakersfield had a good start. We didn't have a bad start. We didn't stop them," said Molnar, one of three seniors to score on Senior Day.
"Getting a win in the MPSF is always tough. Getting a win on Senior Day is that much more special," the Spartans coach said.
"We made some adjustments on our offense, but our defense clamped down and made stops."
CSU Bakersfield's loss was its fifth in a row, all to MPSF teams ranked in the top-10 nationally.
Eight San Jose State players found the back of the cage. Lekness picked up her 11th "hat trick" of the season upping her season total to 61 and Cara Robinson also notched three goals for the second time in 2015 to lead the way. Momen and Victoria Smith scored twice for the Spartans. Clara Espar Llaquet, San Jose State's top scorer, went scoreless in a match for just the second time this season.
Amanda Pike, one of five seniors recognized during pregame Senior Day festivities, closed out the scoring for San Jose State with her first of the season on a power play with 1:09 left in the contest. Morgan Small and starters Dani Styles and Smith joined Pike and Molnar on the Senior Day podium.
Spartan goalkeeper Katelynn Thompson had a busy day making 10 saves. CSU Bakersfield goalkeeper Brittany Tyra stopped six San José State shots. Kristen Jensen of the Roadrunners shared match-high scoring honors with Lekness and Robinson with three.
The San Jose State win moves the Spartans into the sixth seed for the April 24-26 MPSF Tournament at Arizona State. San José State opens the three-day tournament with #3-USC (21-3, 4-2 MPSF) on April 24 at 12:30 p.m. (MST).
"We believe anything can happen. We're looking for an upset. We're looking for our team to rise and play well together. We're going out there with everything we have," Bega said about the upcoming conference tournament.
San Jose State University women's water polo
The Aquatics Center, San Jose, Calif.
April 18, 2015
|Score By Quarters||1||2||3||4||Total|
|CSU Bakersfield (12-15, 0-6 MPSF)||2||2||3||2||9|
|#8-San Jose State (19-9, 1-5 MPSF)||3||6||2||3||14|
CSU Bakersfield - Kristen Jensen, 3; Niki De Leon, Bridgette Souza, 2, each; Tancy Aldridge, Katie Benson, 1, each.
|CSU Bakersfield - Brittany Tyra, 6.|
|San Jose State - Katelynn Thompson, 10.|
|CSU Bakersfield - 6.|
|San Jose State - 14.|