by Nick Fattori
Coming into last weekend’s home matches against St. Francis (N.Y.) and VMI, the women’s water polo team had only won three times, having played 25 matches this season.
The team was also on a four-game losing streak coming into the weekend. These games were their last home matches of the season.
But this did not stop the ’Cats from claiming two weekend wins against their fellow MAAC competitors.
Last Saturday, ’Nova first beat St. Francis in a hard-fought match by a score of 14-11.
Then, later in the day the ’Cats continued their success by winning a squeaker of a match against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets, 10-9.
The two wins improve Villanova’s record to 5-22 on the season. However, their in-MAAC conference record is now even at 2-2, which is very respectable.
The wins also catapult the ’Cats into fourth place in the seven-team league.
Last Saturday was senior day for the Villanova squad, as they honored eight seniors before playing their last home games of their careers.
The seniors honored included: Maria Campanile, Katie Hannigan, Hannah Ishida, Kristy Majetich, Erin Malone, Lauren Peachey, Julia Penkal and Emily Ryan.
However, in the first game of the day it was a trio of underclassmen who stole the show.
In the 14-goal outburst freshman attacker Sarina Shibata scored the first three goals of the day and the ’Cats never looked back.
On the day she finished with a game high six goals.
She was also aided by sophomore attack Callan Edwards who contributed three goals. And on the defensive side of the ball freshman driver Lizzie Newman had seven steals to anchor the defense.
The match against VMI was much closer, with the lead being constantly traded back and forth.
’Nova jumped out to a two-goal lead to start the match, but it was short lived. VMI then rattled off four straight goals to take a two goal advantage.
The ’Cats refused to quit though and began a set of mini-runs for each team. After ’Nova tied the game at four, the Keydets scored two goals of their own to regain the lead. The ’Cats managed to fight back to tie it at six.
’Nova finally regained the lead with a little over two minutes left in the third period, with a score of eight to seven, but the Keydets answered and then scored the go-ahead goal with seven seconds left in the third to lead nine to eight.
Ultimately, the ’Cats wanted the win more, tied the game and Shibata scored the game-winner in the fourth period to win the game 10-9.
Shibata again paced the team with three goals, while Edwards added two of her own and a team-best four assists.
Confidence is flying high and this weekend will go a long way on whether the team qualifies for the upcoming MAAC playoffs later this month.
This weekend, the team will travel north, up to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on the host school as well as Siena this upcoming Saturday.