By Travis West / Staff Writer
With the state championship tournament just two weeks away, the Riverside City College women’s water polo team lost two games in three days at the hands of the No. 1 ranked Golden West College.
The state title contending teams played in Long Beach on Oct. 20 and again at the RCC Aquatic Center on Oct. 24. Coming into the highly anticipated conference match, Rustlers head coach Kyle Kopp, knew what he was getting himself into.
“Last four years have been us going at it and playing out here is top notch,” Kopp said. “When you get to good solid rivalry like this it makes it fun for everybody.”
From the opening whistle the Rustlers came out scoring jumped out to a two goal lead in the first four minutes until Megan Geurts broke away from the pack and netted the Tigers first goal of the game a minute later.
At the end of the first half the Tigers were down 3-1.
The Tigers were unable to capitalize with a man advantage in the third quarter, but did manage to create scoring chances.
Ashley Fedler was able to find some room at two meters and converted the Tigers second goal of the game.
Goalkeeper Chelsea Dement did what she could to keep the team in the game by making huge stops in the cage, but with a man down the Tigers gave up their fourth goal of the matchup.
Going into the final quarter the Tigers trailed the Rustlers 6-3.
Tara Scheibeler was able to score the Tigers third goal, which led to the Rustlers immediate response with a quick goal of their own.
The game came down to the final minutes.
The score was 6-5 with three minutes to play when the Rustlers crushed the Tigers chance at victory and added another goal to take a commanding two goal lead.
Despite their best efforts, the Tigers were unable to overcome the Rustlers lead and ultimately fell 7-5.
The No. 2 Tigers have been behind the Rustlers in the jcwaterpolo.com coaches’ poll all season and have yet to get their first victory against the Rustlers, but freshman Emmie Betz knows the potential her team has.
“If we come out and play for four quarters with intensity and heart…no one can stop us,” Betz said.
This was the second game in three days for the Tigers against the Rustlers. In the first game in Long Beach, Golden West battled to another victory against the Tigers 8-5.
Dement had 12 saves in the cage and defensively the Tigers combined for 21 steals.
Scheibeler and Caroline Teets both had two goals each and Betz had one.
Tigers’ coach David Almquist was disappointed about the loss but knows that there is still room for improvement.
“We are not playing our best defense,” he said.
Almquist went on to say that the team needs to take advantage of special team chances and lock things up on defense.
“If we execute our power play or extra man offense and defense we will have a great chance to win a state championship,” he said.
The team will be in Cypress College from Nov. 1 through Nov. 3 for the Orange Empire championship.