Jayme Pekarske made 13 saves and earned WWPA All-Tournament Team honors in helping East Bay collect third-place honors on Sunday. (Photo: Michael Chen)
The Cal State East Bay water polo team captured third place at the WWPA Championships with a 7-6 victory over Cal State Monterey Bay on Sunday, April 29 to post the best finish in program history at the event. The Pioneers (19-12) got a goal with less than four minutes remaining to improve on last year's finish by one place and claim third after posting their third win of the season over the Otters to cap the WWPA Tournament.
"We played a very disciplined game both defensively and offensively," Head Coach Lisa Cooper said. "I was extremely happy with our offensive patience. My team played calm for four quarters against a very good Monterey team. It has been a great season and I am so proud of all of them. I am especially proud of the seniors who demonstrated great leadership all year."
The two teams started off with a quiet quarter, combining for just two goals in the first quarter. After the Otters opened scoring, the Pioneers answered with a goal from Claire Pierce to tie the game 1-1 to end the first period.
Cal State Monterey Bay took a 2-1 lead after converting a penalty at the 6:16 mark in the second quarter. The Otters made it a 3-1 lead with a goal with 4:34 to play in the second frame. East Bay responded with a goal from Sara Hudyn with 4:17 to play to cut the Otter lead to just 3-2. CSUMB regained a two-goal lead on the second penalty shot of the quarter with 3:03 remaining in the half. East Bay was not fazed, however, getting a goal from Erica Crain to cut the lead to one, 4-3, at the half.
After four scoreless minutes to start the second half, the Pioneers tied things up at four with a goal from Kate McAfee at the 3:15 mark. East Bay took its first lead on Crain's second goal of the game with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter. Carly Clark made it a two-goal lead with a score with 35 seconds remaining in the third period, but the Otters answered with just three second left to cut the lead back to 6-5.
Cal State Monterey Bay tied the game at six to open the fourth quarter and held off the Pioneers for the next three minutes before Hudyn gave East Bay a 7-6 lead at the 3:49 mark. The lead was precarious, however, as the Otters tried to take advantage of a Pioneer exclusion with 1:43 remaining but could not get a goal past Jayme Pekarske despite four straight timeouts between the two teams over the final minute.
Hudyn and Crain led the team with two goals apiece, while Pierce, McAfee and Clark added a goal each for East Bay. Pekarske finished with 13 saves in the win, holding an opponent under seven goals for the eighth time this season. Both Pierce and Pekarske were named to the All-Tournamen Team for the second straight year, while Clark joined them on the All-Tournament Second Team.
The victory was the third of the season over the Otters and marks the Pioneers' best finish in the WWPA Tournament, topping last year's fourth-place finish. The three all-tournament team selections also match last year's program-best.