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The Huskies water polo team beat Pasadena City College 14-10 to win 5th place in the South Coast Conference Championships. Sophia Gonzalez, pictured, scored a game-high eight goals and had a game-high five steals. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)
The Huskies water polo team beat Pasadena City College 14-10 to win 5th place in the South Coast Conference Championships. Sophia Gonzalez, pictured, scored a game-high eight goals and had a game-high five steals. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)

ELAC water polo defeats Pasadena 14-10

WALNUT, CA —  The East Los Angeles College water polo team won 14-10 against Pasadena City in the 5th-place finals at the South Coast Conference Championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

It was the first win for the Huskies over Pasadena in four years. ELAC last beat Pasadena 16-10 on Sept. 10, 2014. The Huskies have lost four straight to the Lancers since, including an 18-16 loss earlier this season.

But today was a different story. The Huskies led from start to finish.

“We pushed since the beginning, but in the end our defense was going to win the game,” said ELAC Assistant Coach Katia Montoya. “So, if we made a mistake we came back, put one away, and then played defense.”

The game opened with an ELAC defense that held Pasadena from taking a shot. The Huskies followed with two quick goals, both from sophomore Sophia Gonzalez (Harvard-Westlake High School).

Gonzalez scored an unassisted goal 44 seconds into the game and again less than a minute later off an assist from freshman Allyson Jimenez (Montebello HS). Freshman Caitlyn Woo (Mark Keppel HS) smashed a goal (assist Gonzalez) less than a minute later and ELAC led 3-0, 2-1/2 minutes into the game. ELAC outshot Pasadena at that point 6-1.

The following two minutes, the Huskies’ defense continued to press all over the pool forcing Pasadena mistakes and holding them without a shot while ELAC shot twice. Pasadena then found the net from a Camila Grases unassisted goal with 3:13 left in the quarter. Gonzalez scored a goal at the buzzer and ELAC led after one 4-2.

Pasadena tried spin moves to counter ELAC’s press. “We swam the other direction to counteract their spins,” said Irene Young. “So, in that sense, we didn’t let them get in front of us.”

Each team scored five goals in the second quarter. ELAC led 6-3 at the 5:55 mark when Pasadena was awarded a two-meter penalty shot taken by Grases to the loud approval of the Pasadena fans. ELAC freshman goalie Alejandra Gazpar (Maywood HS) blocked the shot and the ELAC fans jumped and their screams echoed throughout the pool. ELAC led after two 9-7.

The Husky defense held the Lancers scoreless in the third period. Each team took three shots, ELAC’s latter was a two-foot goal from Gonzalez assisted by freshman Amy Cervantes (Montebello HS). With 2:28 left in the third, Gonzalez stole the ball and scored on a breakaway. She faked a shot and got Pasadena goalie Mariah York to jump, then lofted a goal in the corner. ELAC led 11-7 entering the fourth quarter.

Pasadena scored 27 seconds into the final quarter, a Yesenia Marin goal (assist Christy Lam). When the teams met on Oct. 11 in SCC play, ELAC led 14-11 entering the fourth quarter. Pasadena outscored ELAC 7-2 for a win.

If anyone in the Marie T. Mills Aquatics Facility was thinking another Pasadena comeback was in the making, ELAC squelched that with a goal 32 seconds later. Cervantes scored in traffic with a two-foot bouncer and ELAC led 12-8.

Pasadena cut the ELAC lead to 12-9 off a Grases goal (assist Christy Lam). ELAC responded with a goal to lead 13-9 with 4:05 left in the game. Both teams then scored two goals each and ELAC won 14-10.

“At the half, our chant was ‘DEFENSE’ instead of ‘ELAC’ because we knew that that’s exactly what we needed to do,” said Montoya. “We were up and we controlled the game. Our defense is what won this game and many others for us.”

Gonzalez scored a game-high eight goals. Jimenez scored three goals and Cervantes had two. Grases scored a team-high four goals for Pasadena.

Gonzalez had a game-high five steals, Jimenez had three and Woo grabbed two. Cervantes had a game-high five assists.

“We played together as a team,” said Gonzalez. “The win feels really good, but it’s bittersweet because I’m sad it’s my last.”

While Gonzalez will compete on the Huskies swim team next semester, it was her final water polo game. She will return to UC Berkeley after the Spring Semester majoring in Social Welfare with the goal of becoming a social worker. She plans to be on the water polo club team at Berkeley.

ELAC defeated Rio Hondo College yesterday, 21-10, in the fifth-place semifinals and lost to Chaffe College in the opening round. With the Championships 2-1 run, the Huskies ended the season with an 11-11 record, their best finish in two decades.

“We stepped up, we did what we needed to do to get us here and we finished it,” said Montoya. “We are sad to lose Sophia and Jesse, but a lot of freshmen are returning and we’re expecting more.”

Sophomore Jessenia Barberena (Mark Keppel HS) ended the season with 16 goals, 24 assists and 40 steals.

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story submitted by Tadzio Garcia