by Andrew Moffa
The women’s water polo team placed fourth in the MAAC Championships at Marist College last weekend.
As the No. 4 seed in the tournament, Villanova faced the top-seeded Wagner College Seahawks in the semifinal round.
Having already lost to the Seahawks this year, the Wildcats knew that this game, their first in this year’s Championships, was not going to be easy.
The top-seeded Seahawks started the game on fire, scoring the first three goals of the contest.
Desperately needing a goal, Wildcat sophomore driver Callan Edwards delivered, netting a goal late in the first period to pull Villanova within two.
However, Wagner then took firm control of the game, scoring the next three goals to make the score 6-1.
Villanova freshman attacker Sarina Shibata got the Wildcats on the board again at the tail end of the first half to cut the lead to four.
The Seahawks scored with one second remaining in the second quarter to go into halftime with a five-goal lead, 7-2.
The Seahawks kept up the impressive offensive performance in the second half, outscoring ’Nova 6-1 to make the final margin 13-3.
The lone Wildcat goal in the second half was scored by Edwards late in the fourth period.
With the loss, the Wildcats advanced to the third-place game at the MAAC Water Polo Championships against the second-seeded Marist Red Foxes.
Eager to earn one win at the Conference Championships, the Wildcats jumped up to an early 2-0 lead in the third-place game with goals by freshman driver Naomi Ng and senior driver Julia Penkal.
Marist responded soon after, scoring two consecutive goals to tie the game, only to see Penkal strike again to put Villanova back on top.
Two late first-period goals by Marist gave them a 4-3 lead heading into the second quarter of a back-and-forth game.
The Wildcat freshmen duo of Ng and Shibata, who were high school teammates in Hawaii, combined for three goals in the second period to help the ’Cats to a 6-5 halftime lead.
Shibata scored two in this span, while Ng added one, her second of the game.
After Edwards scored early in the second half to extend the ’Nova lead, Marist responded with three of their own to take an 8-7 lead.
The Red Foxes were able to build on this momentum and extend their lead to three with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
Now, with the score at 10-7, the two teams each tallied two goals in the final five minutes to make the final score 12-9 in favor of the Red Foxes.
Shibata added her third goal of the day to lead the ’Cats.
With the loss, the Villanova Women’s Water Polo team ended the season as the fourth place team in the MAAC with a record of 8-29.
While the record was not what the team had hoped for, the Wildcats suffered several tight losses and received great contributions from underclassmen who will help lead the team over the course of the next few years.