Chapman’s women’s water polo team lost all three of its games this week, falling 16-3 to Loyola Marymount (LMU), 15-6 to Azusa Pacific (APU) and 7-6 to Occidental.
The losses to LMU and APU were in non-conference games, and do not affect Chapman’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standing, but coach Eric Ploessell believes that the games will still help prepare the team for the SCIAC tournament.
“You want to play with or against teams that are better than you,” Ploessel said. “That is going to push you and make you learn from them.”
On Saturday, the Panthers first played Division I LMU, and struggled both on offense and defense.
“LMU is number 13 in the nation,” Ploessel said. “That’s tough going against girls that are on the national team, and Division I players. They’re really good.”
In the second game of the day, the Panthers played APU, and decided to give their starters some rest.
“We played a lot of our subs, just resting a lot of our starters who are injured,” Ploessel said. “The subs actually played pretty well going against a good Division II team.”
On Wednesday, Chapman suffered a tough conference loss to Occidental,
“We knew it was a must win, and we didn’t win,” said junior utility Riley Ford. “That’s a bummer.”
The Panthers got off to a slow start in the first half and trailed the Tigers by a score of 4-1.
“All season long we have been more of a second half team,” said senior driver Allison Harf. “We’re trying to find new ways how we can get more energy in the first half.”
Chapman’s struggles continued in the third as the Tigers scored two more in the period and held a 6-2 lead late in the third quarter.
“We have to be able to put away opportunities when it counts,” Harf said.
The Panthers fought back and tacked on two goals late in the third followed by two more in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“It’s nice to know we have sparks of energy and can play really well if we put it all together,” Ford said. “We just need to figure out how we can play a full game.”
The loss Wednesday marked the eighth time this season the Panthers had lost by a single goal.
“We are not losing to teams by a bunch,” Ford said. “Even though our record shows that we have had a poor season, we have been right there with a lot of good teams.”
While the Panthers (9-20, 2-2) have struggled so far this season, they are confident they can turn it around with the SCIAC tournament rapidly approaching.
“We lost in double overtime to Claremont, the number one team in SCIAC right now, so we are up there and competitive with every single team in SCIAC,” Ford said. “We can definitely win the final tournament.”
The Panthers will play their final two games of the season this week against SCIAC opponents. Their first game will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Pomona-Pitzer, and the final game of the season will be played at 11 a.m. at home against Whittier.