By Scott Padula
Interim Coach Paul Rave started his career strongly as the women’s water polo team started its season by going 4-0 at the Bison Invitational this weekend. This is the third time in four years that the team has won its season opener.
The Bison began the invitational Friday evening by defeating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The two teams battled for the lead in the first two quarters, with the score tied at 4 going into the half. The Orange and Blue responded in the second half, outscoring the Athenas 7-3. Hallie Kennan ’12 and Julianne Valdes ’14 dominated on the offensive end netting five and four goals respectively, while Mackenzie Ferry ’14, Amanda Skonezney ’12 and Tara Murao ’13 combined for seven of the team’s 16 steals.
“Everyone was on the same page and we were all able to execute some of the things we had been working on. Paul is an incredibly fundamental, defensive-minded coach and I think that showed in our play,” Haley Prickett ’11 said.
Prickett also contributed to the 11-7 Bison victory with three assists.
With three goals from Valdes and a pair each from Skonezney and Heather Smith ’14, the Bison cruised to an 11-1 victory over the Gannon Golden Knights in their second match of the tournament. Strong showings in goal from both Brittany Connell ’12 and Rena Heim ’14 also allowed the Bison to coast to victory.
The Bison defeated Wagner 11-4 in their final match Saturday. The teams remained close in the first two quarters but the Orange and Blue offense exploded in the third, netting five straight goals and seizing a victory. Valdes, Smith, Murao and Ariel Frankeny ’12 scored a pair of goals each as a total of nine different Bison registered a point in the well-distributed affair. Heim had another strong performance with eight saves in 32 minutes of action. The victory gave the Bison a 3-0 record for the third time in program history.
The Orange and Blue wrapped up a perfect Bison Invitational by defeating the Siena Saints 11-8 Sunday. The Bison started the game by scoring four of the game’s first five goals, taking an 8-3 lead into halftime. Both offenses looked sluggish to open the third, missing several costly opportunities. Siena managed to net a mere goal, while the Orange and Blue could not connect. The Saints ferociously tried to mount a comeback in the fourth, cutting the deficit to two on several occasions. Each time the Bison managed to fend them off thanks in large part to the efforts of Connell and Heim. Similarly to the Wagner game, the Bison played selflessly as 10 different players registered a point.
“This weekend showed us that we have the basis for a great team, we just need to continually improve our awareness and communication as we learn to play with each other,” Prickett said. “We’re a really young team and I think it’s great we started the season off 4-0, but this coming weekend will be another test. As far as I’m concerned we still have a lot to prove.”
The Bison will head to College Park next weekend to compete in the Maryland Invitational. There, they will face Wagner, George Washington and the host Terrapins as they hope to protect their flawless record.