WHITTIER – The University of La Verne women's water polo team opened its 2014 season with two games at the Whittier College Mini Invitational. La Verne fell short in both games, but showed a great deal improvement from Game 1 against Azusa Pacific to Game 2 against Whittier.
Game 1: Azusa Pacific 21, La Verne 4
The Leopards had their hands full against Azusa Pacific as they fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter.
Freshman Megan Little put the Leos on the board with the first goal of her career at the 6:03 mark in the second quarter.
Catie Tuning followed with her first goal about 2 minutes later to cut the deficit to five, but the Cougars ripped off seven unanswered goals spilling into late third quarter to pull away from the Leopards.
Freshman Mary Carillo opened her collegiate goals account with 37 seconds left in the third quarter and Catie Tuning added another goal in the frame as well.
Game 2: Whittier 10, La Verne 7
Catie Tuning scored four goals and the Leopards were more competitive in the second game. But another slow start cost La Verne as they lost 10-7 against Whittier.
Lora Marquez-Salgado, a sophomore transfer, tied the game at 1-1 when she notched her first goal as a Leopard at the 5:33 mark in the first quarter.
But the Poets went on a 6-0 run and the Leopards found themselves down 7-1 three minutes in the second quarter.
Catie Tuning stopped the bleeding with a score with 5:19 to go in the first half and things improved from there as La Verne outscored Whittier 5-3 the rest of the way, but the early hole was too deep to climb out of.
Stephanie Tuning netted her first of the season to open the scoring in the third quarter and Catie Tuning added three more in the second half.
Stephanie Tuning also recorded five steals on the day.
"We have a lot of new faces," La Verne head coach Alex La said. "We got off to a slow start in the morning, but the effort and teamwork were a lot better in the second game."
After a three-week break, the Leopards travel to Thousand Oaks to compete in the Posada Invitational on March 1-2. The Leopards will face top competition, including NCAA Division I No. 12 Long Beach State.