LOS ANGELES — It was everything you would expect from bitter rivals and the nation's top two NCAA Division III women's water polo teams. There was overtime, standout individual performances, eight lead changes and a game-tying goal with just seconds left in regulation.
But in the second three-minute segment of overtime Alyssa Woodward (Riverside) scored consecutive goals — one on a penalty shot and the other a 6-5 opportunity — leading No. 2 Pomona-Pitzer past No. 1 Occidental 15-13 at Taylor Pool on Saturday.
Woodward hadn't scored all game until she found the net on a five-meter shot with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining to put the Sagehens (11-15, 1-0 SCIAC) up 14-13. Moments later, she gave her team some insurance following the exclusion of Oxy's Tessa Bailey-Findley (Anaheim Hills), scoring with 1:20 left.
Nanea Fujiyama, Oxy's leading goal scorer, had five goals for the Tigers (17-5, 0-1 SCIAC).
Pomona's Perri Hopkins (Agoura), Mahalia Prater-Fahey (San Diego) and Vicky Gyorffy (Sacramento) led a balanced Sagehens attack with three goals each.
Neither team held more than a one-goal advantage until Hopkins scored a pair and Prater-Fahey added one during a 3-1 run that put the Sagehens up 8-5 midway through the third quarter.
Oxy chipped away at the lead, finally tying the game with 2 seconds to play in regulation on a desperation follow up that on Final Four Saturday had shades of the 1983 NCAA basketball championship when N.C. State's Lorenzo Charles rebounded and scored Derek Whittenburg's long-range shot to win the title for the Wolfpack.
Bailey-Findley heaved a long arching shot from mid-pool that bounced off the crossbar and just far enough away from Pomona keeper Sarah Tuggy (Los Angeles) for Lindsay Albino (Greenwich, Conn.) to backhand it into the net just in time to even the score at 11 and send the game into overtime.
Unfortunately for Oxy, head coach Larry Zubrin didn't take a famous lap around the pool like the late Jimmy Valvano did around the court and Tigers didn't end up victorious.
"It was a classic between two of the best teams in Division III," Occidental coach Larry Zubrin said. "It was a back and forth game, we felt like we could have capitalized on some opportunities in the first half, but they were a little better than us today."
In the first 3-minute overtime segment, Oxy took its first lead since holding a brief 5-4 advantage in the second quarter, on a crafty back flip into the goal by Bailey-Findley.
Gyorffy scored two unanswered goals to put the Sagehens back up 13-12, then Corrine Casey (Lodi) buried a soft-arcing shot from deep to even the score at 13.
Oxy didn't score a goal in the second overtime segment, coming up a little short in its first SCIAC match of the season.
The Tigers continue SCIAC play at Whittier on April 4.
Box Score 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT OT TOTAL
Occidental 2 2 3 4 2 0 13
Pomona-Pitzer 3 2 4 2 2 2 15
Occidental-Fujiyama-5, Casey-3, Garcia-2, Bailey-Findley-1, McClafferty-1, Albino-1
Pomona-Pitzer-Prater-Fahey-3, Gyorrfy-3, Hopkins-3, Westcott-2, Oxborough-Yankus-2, Woodward-2