Women’s Water Polo Exacted Revenge Before Playoff Exit

While clinching the same placement as the men, the women’s arc to get to the playoffs had a completely different atmosphere


Joshua Sanchez

Samantha Martinez (14) gets ready to try and score against Rio Hondo against Nov. 5.

While both water polo teams overcame different challenges to earn the same placement in the South Coast Conference Tournament, the women’s water polo team had a completely different dynamic throughout the tournament.

While also benefiting from being the venue host, the women’s team faced Rio Hondo on Nov. 5 and almost replicated the men’s final score.

Rio’s best June Babishoff (12) scored five goals off of six shots, while their runner up Joslyn Larson (10) managed two goals off of three shots.

Babishoff’s feat would be one upped by Mt. SAC’s Alexis Ramirez (8), who scored six goals and three assists, while Larson would be one upped by Xen Allen (5) with four goals and three assists.

This first round was not close and mirrored both teams’ regular season performances.

The Mounties led the entire game with a 4-0 lead after the first quarter, 7-2 lead at the half and an 11-4 breakaway after the third quarter. The final score came down 17-7, just one point shy of the mens’ 18-7 victory over Chaffey.

With confidence from defeating Rio Hondo, the women faced a familiar foe in the semifinals – the Cerritos College Falcons.

Madeline Gaitan (6) serves up a pass against the Cerritos Falcons on Nov. 5. (Joshua Sanchez)

Unlike the relatively uneventful Roadrunners matchup, there was immense pressure on both squads to determine whether their Oct. 20 matchup and the Falcons’ 12-5 victory would be repeated. The Mounties looked to reverse the home pool advantage from that game and hoped for more favorable referee calls as the team was now more familiar with the Falcons’ play style, while the Falcons looked to prove why they were the second seeded team in the conference.

The men’s team had lost a close one on Oct. 20 and had a real heartbreaker in the semifinals on Nov. 4. This game would be the last chance for Mt. SAC to take a win over Cerritos.

In the stands, a whole different narrative was building.

Women from the fifth seeded Golden West Warriors squad decided to cheer extensively for the Falcons throughout the Nov. 5 matchup. Having just ousted the fourth seed, the Pasadena City Lancers, several members of their squad talked about how they preferred their odds against Mt. SAC over Cerritos.

Unfortunately, the Falcons fan base – boosted by Warriors – had lots to cheer for.
The Mounties repeated their performance on Oct. 20 to a tee.

The final score ended up being a few points off of their first matchup, with the points difference coming from the first quarter’s points. If you took out the first quarter’s results, they recreated the entire point makeup of the Oct. 20 matchup.

In this game, the Mounties repeated an incredibly close first quarter where they trailed 1-2. The half ended 3-6 with the game still within reach, but Mt. SAC ended up folding in the third quarter when the team allowed five more goals and was unable to score a single point of their own.

Though they made attempts to bounce back with three more goals, the Falcons matched their output to close the game 14-6.

Needless to say, the Warriors were thrilled with the result and ended the day in good spirits despite losing to the brick wall known as the Long Beach Vikings, who crushed them 18-1.

On Nov. 6, they were less thrilled to face the Mounties.

Xen Allen (5) takes charge against the El Camino Warriors on Nov. 6. (Joshua Sanchez)

Instead of giving the Warriors something to clap about, the women’s team dominated them

Where the Vikings had led 6-1 in their semifinal game against the Warriors, Mt. SAC blocked their ability to score until the fourth quarter, where coincidentally the Mounties were up by six before letting one through.

The game ended 10-1. Allen had yet another breakout performance in the playoffs with five goals and one assist alongside Julia Bensing-Ruiz (9) with three goals and an assist of her own.

With that victory, the women’s season ended with a third place finish in the South Coast Conference behind the Vikings who defeated the Falcons to maintain their first place position.

On Nov. 11, the Mounties took on Ventura in the Southern California Regional Playoffs and came up short in a 5-9 loss. This was an improvement over their prior 12-7 loss to Ventura in the regular season.

Had the Mounties advanced, they would have faced the Vikings that had beaten them 21-5 in the regular season and just won the conference. Ventura lost that matchup with the Vikings pulling a 17-9 victory.

Closing out the season, the team finished 12-18 overall and 7-3 in conference. While they dropped a lot of games early in the season, they showed up when it came to conference matchups.

With a mostly freshman squad outside of Allen, Bensing-Ruiz, Grace Rowland (2), Madeline Gaitan (6), Katelynn Howell (12), Samantha Martinez (14) bouncing back after missing a full season to third in the conference, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming season.