THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran women's water polo team split on day one of the Tina Finali Invitational which was highlighted by senior Megan Seeman's five goals in the 12-4 win against Fresno Pacific. The Regals also took on Sonoma State, falling just short, with a final score of 8-7.
The invite started Friday morning and stretched throughout the day. The Regals (5-3) took on two Division II teams as they prepare for Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play. The invite will continue with seven games on Saturday, with the Regals playing in two of those.
The Regals started the Tina Finali Invitational against the Sunbirds of Fresno Pacific. The Sunbirds struck first and the teams exchanged goals the rest of the quarter as it was tied at 2-2. Senior Nikki Roed and junior Mackenzie Thomas had the answer each time as they both scored a goal. The second quarter was all about the defense as only one goal was scored. Freshman Lexi Rond made it 3-2 as the Regals had the lead at the half.
CLU took control of the game in the third quarter. Seeman had an impressive outing and scored four unanswered goals. It was the space the Regals needed as they swam away with the game in the fourth quarter. Seeman scored her fifth goal and sophomore Jessica Diaz, senior Mardell Ramirez, Rond and freshman Susanna Zdolsek each added one as Cal Lutheran defeated Fresno Pacific 12-4.
The Regals were 5-for-9 on power play opportunities while holding the Sunbirds to 2-of-8. Rond and junior Victoria Rose Meek used their athleticism to draw three ejections each. Ramirez led CLU with two assists and three more Regals added one. Senior goalkeeper Bailey Meyer and the defense played a huge part in the game. Meyer made 14 saves in front of the cage and tallied two steals. Freshman Kaitlin Gardhouse also had two steals and five more Regals added one.
Sonoma State got on the board first, but CLU was quick to answer as Thomas found the back of the net. The next few minutes was all Seawolves as they took a 4-1 lead with 2:59 left in the first. Cal Lutheran was able to cut into the lead as Seeman scored twice. She scored her second goal with three seconds left and CLU looked to have the momentum going to the second quarter.
The Regals came all the way back, as Seeman recorded her second hat trick of the day, and the score was tied at 4 with 5:31 left in the half. Sonoma State did have the final say of the half as they took the lead back and were up 5-4.
Cal Lutheran came out on fire in the third quarter. Meek used her strength to get deep into the middle of the defense. Ramirez was able to find her as Meek fired a no-look shot for the goal. A few plays later, the Regals took their first lead of the game at 6-5 as Meek found Gardhouse for the goal. The game continued to go back and forth as the Seawolves then tied up the game. Each team scored once more and the score was tied going to the fourth quarter.
The defenses came alive in the fourth quarter as both teams were shut out for the first four minutes. Sonoma State was finally able to break the tie and had an 8-7 lead with just under four minutes left in the game. The Seawolves held the lead for the rest of the game and earned the hard-fought win.
On top of Seeman's hat trick, four more Regals scored a goal. The CLU defense was out in full force and combined for 13 steals. Thomas recorded three while Gardhouse, Rond, Roed, Ramirez and junior Christin Hirn all had two. Meyer was in the cage for the whole game and made 13 saves.
The Regals continue the Tina Finali Invitational on Saturday. Cal Lutheran plays Azusa Pacific at 8 a.m. and Fresno State at 12 p.m.
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director