Saratoga, Calif.----- McKenna Yates scored an even-strength goal with 0:56 remaining giving #16-San Jose State an 8-7 win over #22-CSU Bakersfield in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation women's water polo match.
Yates' goal, her second of the contest, gave the Spartans (10-16, 1-4 MPSF) their only lead of the second half which they were able to preserve. CSU Bakersfield's Ashley Paz, the match's leading scorer with three, took the Roadrunners' final shot on the subsequent possession, but missed wide.
"They were dropping off the `4' spot. It's a weak-side shot for a righty to help on the hole-set. We're taught to move it (the ball) and walk it in. It's our time to shoot and I did just that," said Yates. I saw the goalie go near-side, so I shot cross cage. She wasn't there in time."
San Jose State's win ended a three-match losing streak, all to teams ranked in the top-five nationally.
The Spartans emerged victorious with one of their best second-half defensive efforts of the season. San Jose State gave up just one goal in the final two quarters, Kristen Jensen's second of the match to tie the score, 7-7, with 4:58 remaining. In the last two Spartan wins, the team gave up just one second-half goal.
"We knew it would a tough game against Bakersfield. It was our Senior Day. Everybody was excited about the game itself. We were hoping to get a `W' and we did; so I'm happy about that," said San Jose State head coach Gabor Sarusi, who believed CSU Bakersfield' four-goal second-quarter was a result of uncharacteristic mistakes by his team.
"We had a really bad second quarter and we were able to get out of it and come back and play as a team. I'm happy they played for each other in the second half of the game."
Spartan goalkeeper Katelynn Thompson anchored the defensive effort with seven saves. CSU Bakersfield goalkeeper Courtney Wahlstrom kept her team in the match with 12 stops.
"We paid attention more to what we wanted to run as a team. We did what we came out to do, run our system and shut down their best players," added the San Jose State coach.
On Senior Day, it appeared San Jose State was going to effectively ride the emotion of seniors Vanessa Elgohary, Donia Momen, Sara Northam and co-captain Cara Robinson in their last home match. Momen put the Spartans ahead 2-0 with a goal on the first match's first possession as the 35-second shot clock was expiring and a power-play score nearly four minutes later.
"...We really needed this win. In the past, Bakersfield had not beaten us (those in the senior class) before and they were going to come out strong," said Momen. "We came out strong and played for the seniors. I, as a senior, played my heart out and gave it everything I had. It was a `true' win in my opinion and that is a big deal.
"It was crazy we were even down by a goal. In my head and in the heads of the rest of my teammates, we didn't feel like we were down. We had such good energy. We were going to come strong and put the ball away."
CSU Bakersfield (12-15, 0-6 MPSF) had one of its best power-play attacks against San Jose State this season to get back into the match and eventually take a 6-5 halftime lead. The Roadrunners were 4-of-8 (50.0%) with a Spartan in the penalty box. During the Spartans' just-ended losing streak, opponents were 6-of-29 (20.7%). Paz accounted for two of CSU Bakersfield's four power-play goals. Her last one was with 0:20 before halftime sent the Roadrunners into intermission with the lead.
Besides Yates and Momen, Michelle Taikeff, Carla Toha Vilanova, Klaudia Paradi and Sierra Painter scored for San Jose State. Toha Vilanova and Paradi scored tying goals in the second and third quarters, respectively.
San Jose State has less than 24 hours to savor the win. The Spartans close out the regular season, Saturday, April 22, at #2-Stanford in a 1:00 p.m. MPSF match. The two teams are meeting for the second time this season. In the season-opener for both squads, Stanford won, 16-2.
San Jose State University women's water polo
San Jose State vs. CSU Bakersfield
West Valley College Aquatic Center, Saratoga, Calif.
April 21, 2017
Final Score -- San Jose State 8, CSU Bakersfield 7
|#22-CSU Bakersfield (12-15, 0-6 MPSF)||2||4||0||1||7|
|#16-San Jose State (10-16, 1-4 MPSF)||4||1||1||2||8|
|CSU Bakersfield -- Ashley Paz, 3; Kristen Jensen, 2; Nicola Barrett, Tancy Aldridge, 1, each.|
|San Jose State -- Donia Momen, McKenna Yates, 2, each; Michelle Taikeff, Carla Toha Vilanova, Klaudia Paradi, Sierra Painter, 1, each.|
|CSU Bakersfield -- Courtney Wahlstrom, 12.|
|San Jose State -- Katelynn Thompson, 7.|
|CSU Bakersfield -- 4.|
|San Jose State -- 8.|