WHITTIER — The Occidental College women's water polo team won its first round game in the SCIAC championship tournament, but lost in the semi finals and again in the third-place game, ending one of the best seasons in program history on a sour note.
The Tigers started off with a 5-3 win over La Verne on Friday. The win advanced Occidental to the Saturday semi-finals, where they faced familiar rivals, the University of Redlands. Just one year before, the Tigers fell to the Bulldogs in the SCIAC championship, resulting in both teams being named co-champions. Despite Occidental's best efforts they were unable to secure the big win, losing 7-6 to the Bulldogs.
Although they missed their chance to repeat as conference champs, the Tigers entered Sunday eager to solidify their third place ranking against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, a team they easily handled twice before — once in pre-season and once in regular season. Occidental started off with two goals within the first 4 minutes of play and continued to control the game until CMS utility Candace Filippelli scored to tie the game at 4-4 with 7 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter. Each team exchanged one more goal apiece, until the Athenas fired off three in a row, bringing the score to 8-5 with 6:06 left in the fourth.
The Tigers didn't quit.
After a time out, Oxy rallied again, tying the game at 8-8 after a goal by Nanea Fujiyama (Honolulu) with 58 seconds left in regular play.
CMS scored three goals in the first overtime period, but again the Tigers didn't go away. Tessa Bailey-Findley (Anaheim Hills) and Corrine Casey (Lodi) each scored, but Oxy's second late comeback fell short.
Despite the loss, the Tigers remain in third place overall as a result of the points earned during the regular SCIAC season.
The Tigers broke the program's win record with 23 victories, and beat the No. 10 Division I UC Santa Barbara at the Posada Royale Tournament in one of Oxy's best women's water polo seasons.
"The conference tournament was obviously disappointing, as our goal is always to win a SCIAC Championship," Occidental coach Larry Zubrin said. "But when you look back across the year, and all of the things we accomplished, it's impossible not to call this season a success. We have no regrets, and we're already looking forward to next year."