Travis West / Staff Writer
Riverside City College women’s water polo team was expected to compete for its third straight state championship until Fullerton College ended those expectations in the Southern California Regional.
Fullerton defeated RCC, 8-7 at Fullerton College to advance to the finals on Nov. 10.
Fullerton has been a problem for the Tigers all season. On Nov. 2, during the Orange Empire Conference Championships, Fullerton beat the Tigers 9-6.
That loss ended RCC’s reign as conference title holders for the last eight seasons.
The season series heading into regionals was split with each team winning twice and losing twice.
Every game was close between these two teams. Out of the four games played, each was decided by three goals or less.
Crucial losses earlier in the season resulted in the Tigers being seeded No. 3 in the regional playoffs. Tiger head coach David Almquist said he wanted his team to be seeded higher, but would make the best of it.
Fullerton handed RCC their second loss earlier this season in a triple overtime finish to determine a winner.
The semifinal matchup was intense from the beginning with both teams knowing that winner would move on to the finals of the SoCal Regionals and also to secure a spot in the state tournament.
The game was close as both teams offense traded goals for the entire game. Scoring did not seem like it was going to be a problem for either team.
Defensively, the Tigers were strong, but Fullerton was able to capitalize on the Tigers’ mistakes.
Execution on the offensive side of the ball slowly became a problem for the Tigers. The shots were there, but they could not get the ball in the cage.
Emmie Betz said that her team outplayed Fullerton, but just could not make the most of their scoring chances.
“We definitely outplayed them, however, we simply did not execute,” Betz said. “We played stellar defense and we managed to get great scoring looks nearly every play, we just didn’t execute our opportunities.”
Naturally, players on the Tigers were upset about the loss; however, the team’s effort did not allow them to hang their head low.
“I think that was the most heart we have played with as a team all season,” Betz explained.
Betz mentioned that she and a few other players will be returning, including leading goal scorer, Megan Guerts.
Almquist is disappointed about the way the season ended, but he knows his players did their best. RCC defeated Cerritos 8-6 to take third place.
Betz expects her team to be in a position to win state next season.
“We are just going to remember what this feels like when we come back next year and use it as motivation.”