THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The University of La Verne women's water polo team hit the pool for the first time this season at the Tina Finali Invitational, hosted by Cal Lutheran from Feb. 28 to March 1.
The Leopards played four games against upper-division opponents and flashed potential under first-year head coach William Rodriguez.
Game 1: CSU Bakersfield 21, La Verne 7
La Verne hung with Cal State Bakersfield early, but could not keep up with the Runners' firepower in a 21-7 loss.
Jacqueline Rojas scored the first goal of the game to put the Leopards on the board, but the Runners answered immediately with four straight goals to take a 4-1 lead.
Sarah Jefferis scored two early goals in the second quarter to bring the Leopards within 5-3 and that was as close as the Leopards would get the rest of the way.
Cal State Bakersfield scored seven goals in the second quarter to take an 11-4 lead into the break.
La Verne matched the Runners goal-for-goal in the third quarter aided by Catie Tuning's two goals but was shut out in the final quarter.
Game 2: Cal Baptist 17, La Verne 8
Catie Tuning notched a hat trick but the Leopards could not overcome a slow start in a 17-8 loss.
Jacqueline Rojas put in both of her goals in the fourth and Tuning and Megan Little each added a goal in the final quarter as the Leopards played evenly with the Lancers in the second half. Both teams scored five apiece after the break.
But the offense came out of the gates slowly and the defense was too loose early. Cal Baptist scored the game's first four goals and tallied a total of 12 goals in the first half while the Leopards were held to just three goals.
Megan Little had two goals and Amber Tardif added one for La Verne.
Hailey Westwood had four saves in the cage.
Game 3: Azusa Pacific 14, La Verne 3
The La Verne offense was stymied by Azusa Pacific in a 14-3 loss.
Jacqueline Rojas once again scored the first goal of the game, but the Cougars rattled off eight unanswered goals to run away to an 8-1 lead.
Catie Tuning found the net twice in the third quarter to stop the bleeding, but Azusa Pacific put it four in the quarter and added four more in the fourth to put the game away.
Game 4: Villanova 14, La Verne 6
Six different Leopards got on the board in a 14-6 loss to Villanova.
The Leopards kept it close early but the Wildcats clamped down defensively in the second half. La Verne matched Villanova's three goals in the second quarter with Kendra New, Sarah Jefferis and Megan Little all scoring and went into the break trailing, 8-5.
But the Leopards could only one goal in the second half and the Wildcats added three goals apiece in the third and the fourth quarters to pull away.
La Verne returns to action at the Claremont Convergence, hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer on March 6-7.