The women’s water polo team’s season ended after a 13-11 loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the fifth-place match of the conference championships April 23. The Panthers had beaten the University of Redlands 9-8 April 22 in an elimination matchup to qualify for the game.
“There were just a few times where we made mistakes on defense (in the fourth period) that cost us,” said senior two-meter offender Emiko Mizusawa.
Senior two-meter defender Emily Fong led the Panthers with four goals against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, while senior attacker Grace Schade scored three.
The Panthers and Athenas went into the second half tied at 8-8 after Claremont-Mudd-Scripps junior attacker Roxy Kiessling scored with 11 seconds left to deny the Panthers the halftime lead.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Chapman remained tied 10-10 going into the fourth period. However, the Athenas were able to break away from the Panthers in the final seven minutes of the game, scoring three goals to make the score 13-10 before Fong scored a consolation goal for the Panthers with seven seconds left in the game.
“Even though we didn’t win, we came out strong and really played as a unit,” Schade said. “We had great defense and great offense despite (falling behind at the end).”
Chapman began the tournament April 21 with a 14-11 loss to the University of La Verne in the opening round of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championships. The defeat was the Panthers’ sixth in a row.
Against La Verne, Schade led the Panthers with four goals, while senior utility player Lindsey Campbell and Mizusawa had two goals each. Senior utility player Stephanie Rosero had a game-high five goals for the Leopards.
The loss eliminated the Panthers from semifinal qualification, meaning the highest they could possibly finish in the tournament was fifth place if they were able to beat the University of Redlands in the next round. The Panthers did so in a dramatic 9-8 win, setting up Sunday’s fifth-place game.
“I think (the win against Redlands) helped us come out strong today and gave us more confidence toward Claremont,” Schade said. “We had beaten Redlands once before, so we were prepared for (the game plan) they run and how they play. We were able then to fix our defense to them.”
Against Redlands, Campbell scored the game-winning goal with a powerful shot from the right flank to book the Panthers’ place in the fifth-place game. Campbell led Chapman with four goals.
The Panthers finished the regular season as the seventh seed going into the SCIAC Championships and had been on a five-game losing streak up until that point. The top four goalscorers for the Panthers this season are all graduating seniors, leaving junior utility players Andi Sandoval and Elaine Peterson as Chapman’s main offensive threats going into next season.
“It didn’t really matter to me that we didn’t perform too well and came in sixth because it was more important to me that we grow as players and individuals,” Schade said. “I think we return some really talented girls (next season). They are going to be a young team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good. I have total confidence in them to come out and be great.”