No. 14 Indiana Water Polo broke a three-game losing streak Saturday afternoon, playing two games at home against No. 13 San Jose State and Salem.
Before Game 2 against Salem, the Indians paid tribute to their seniors, including goaltender Mary Askew, attacker Tina Doherty, attacker Lauren Etnyre, utility Hannah Falls-Hand, goaltender Sarah Greeven and center Izzy Mandema.
“They’ve gone through a conference change, they’ve gone through a coaching change, and the six of them really stick together on everything,” head coach Tyler Dodson said. “They helped take this project to a different level.”
To start an eventful Saturday, No. 13 San Jose State entered the game with a resume similar to Indiana’s. Like the Indians, the Spartans are teetering on the .500 mark with an 11-11 overall record and a 0-3 record at the Pacific Mountain Sports Federation Conference without a win.
Spartan utility players, senior Olga Descalzi and freshman Syrah David each scored 57 points in their first game Saturday, fifth among all players in the conference .
Strong defensive performances and missed opportunities from Indiana and San Jose State were common early on. Askew put together six saves in the first half for the Indians, though her teammates couldn’t convert scoring chances into scoring. Descalzi scored the only goal in the first quarter to give the Spartans an early lead.
The second period told a different story, as the Indians finally scored on goals from Mandemar, sophomore forward Sophie Vazan and junior utility Catherine Hawkins.
In the final minute of the first half, the Indians tied the lead with about 23 seconds left at the buzzer before the Spartans. In the second half, the two teams were tied 3-3.
Mandemar and the Indians opened fire in the third quarter. She scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the third quarter to give Indiana a 5-3 lead in a low-scoring game going into the fourth.
Another turn between quarters didn’t hold back Mandema’s impact on the offense. The star Indians forward scored again in the fourth quarter to extend her goal tally to four and the Indians’ lead to three.
The Indians kept the Spartans scoreless in the second half and held the lead to end their three-game losing streak. The 6-3 result also marked the Indians’ first division win of the season.
In Indiana’s first game, Askew was excellent at the net, saving 12 of the Spartans’ 15 shots. The Lady has scored a hat-trick in nine games this season, scoring four goals in four of those nine appearances.
Indiana faced Salem in Game 2 of the doubles. The Tigers entered the game with a 12-15 aggregate score and a 3-0 record in the division. The Tigers are led by senior driver Annefleur Ten Bloemendal, who has 77 goals and 28 assists this season, leading the team with 105 points before the race.
The Indians gained momentum from their previous victories, and the festivities surrounding their senior year were full of energy. They were able to capitalize on that momentum and start hot early, with goals from Doherty, Etnyre, Falls-Hand and Hawkins giving the Indians a 5-1 lead going into the second quarter.
The Indians didn’t score their next goal until less than two minutes left in the first half. Doherty scored a hat-trick as freshman Grace Hathaway scored in the first half for the Indians, who led 8-3 into the half.
Junior drivers Rebecca Schofield and Mandema netted each in the third quarter to extend the Indians’ lead to 10-4 going into the final quarter.
Freshman center Sofia Soli scored the first goal for both teams in the fourth quarter, extending Indiana’s lead to seven goals. It wasn’t long before the Tigers responded with a couple of goals of their own.
However, the Indians dominated the game for the remainder of the game. Mandemar, Crouch and Sorley scored three goals in the final six minutes to knock out the Tigers and give the Indians their second win of the day at 14-8 on aggregate.
The Indiana seniors combined for 12 goals and 28 saves between Askew and Greeven in the two games Saturday afternoon.
After Saturday’s win in its final home game of the season, Indiana is now 12-12 overall and 1-3 in the division.
Indiana will return to action on April 9 with another doubles match against Santa Clara, Calif., followed by East Bay Cal State in Hayward, Calif.
“We’re talking about peaking in April, and I think we’ll do that,” Dodson said.