CLAREMONT — The Occidental College women's water polo team used precise outside shooting and strong defense to secure a 13-9 victory at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in its regular season finale on Saturday.
The victory extends Oxy's over all record to 22-7, giving them the most single season wins in program history. The Tigers are now 5-2 in SCIAC play, and they'll advance to the SCIAC Championship Tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Trailing 1-0 mid-way through the first quarter, the Tigers scored seven unanswered goals to take control of the Athenas. Tessa Bailey-Findley (Anaheim Hills) scored two of her game-high five goals to give Oxy a 4-1 lead after the first quarter.
The Oxy senior raised her season total to 69 goals, third most in Division III, and has now scored 16 times in Oxy last four games.
Fujiyama, the Division III leader in goals, finished with three goals, upping her season total to 79.
Oxy coach Larry Zubrin was impressed with the team's effort on both ends of the pool.
"We pride ourselves on playing strong, smart defense and that will always be a key to our success." Zubrin said. "What really impressed me was our ability to attack their zone defense today. That's been an issue for us most of the season, and something we've worked a lot on, so it was really nice to see that hard work pay off."
Although the Tiger offense slowed in the second half, the defense continued to apply pressure, while Goalie Rachel Adeleye (Elizabeth, N.J.) consistently turned back Athena shots. The junior finished with a season best 14 saves in the match.
The scoring would go back and forth in the third quarter, with the Athena's converting on back-to-back possessions, to make it 12-7 with three minutes to play in the quarter
But Oxy's defense continued to thwart any CMS momentum.
The Tigers went up 13-7 early in the fourth quarter, and CMS only managed two late goals in the closing minute to make the final score 13-9.
Oxy's Corrine Casey (Lodi), who leads the nation in assists, finished with three on the day, giving her 49 this season. The senior also scored her 27th goal of the year.
Sophomores Lindsay Albino (Greenwich, Conn.) and McClafferty each added two goals for the Tigers.
The Conference Tournament takes place April 27-29 at Whittier College. Occidental will open play in the first round against sixth seeded University of La Verne.
The Tigers have defeated the Leopards twice this season. The first time by a score of 9-8 last Feb. 25 at the Chapman Classic, and again last weekend in SCIAC regular season play, by a score of 15-6.
Next Friday's game will be played at Whittier College, with the opening sprint scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
BOX SCORE 1st 2nd 3rd 4th TOTAL
Occidental 4 5 3 1 13
CMS 1 2 4 2 9
Occidental-Bailey-Findley-5, Fujiyama-3, Albino-2, McClafferty-2, Casey-1
CMS-C.Fillipelli-4, Davis-2, Koper-2, Toohey-1
CMS-Basso-2, Hu-3, Williams-4