HAYWARD, Calif. – The Santa Clara University women's water polo team capped off the 2011 season with a 7-4 comeback victory over Cal State East Bay to place third at the Western Water Polo Association Championships, held at Chabot College in Hayward.
Senior Caitlin Espe scored three goals in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback and classmate Wren White saved 10 shots and blocked two five-meter penalty shots. The senior class of Espe, White, Taylor Harkins, Whitney Allen and Jade Look finish their college careers on a high note.
Allen and White were named First Team All-WWPA Tournament players and the Broncos' finish among the league's top three builds on the program's runner-up finish in 2009.
"This team has come farther than any group I've coached in a season," said Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur. "We have a lot of young players but we had a great senior class and their leadership was key to our development and progress."
Seeded-third, Santa Clara (15-19; 10-6 WWPA) was matching up with fifth-seeded Cal State East Bay (20-14; 10-7 WWPA), a team the Broncos beat two weeks ago at Bakersfield to avenge a pair of early-season losses.
The first three quarters of Sunday's game was a low-scoring defensive battle. East Bay held a 4-3 advantage after the third quarter. To begin the fourth, Espe scored on Santa Clara's first possession to tie it and White made some outstanding saves to keep East Bay off the scoreboard.
Espe would score two more times and Harkins added another to give Santa Clara the victory.
"This was a great way to finish the season," said Wilbur. "The whole team stepped up. That fourth quarter was the best we've played all year."
2011 WWPA All-Tournament Team
MVP: Hanalei Crowell (Sr., DR) – UC San Diego
Hanalei Crowell (Sr., DR) – UC San Diego
Kirsten Bates (Jr., 2M) – UC San Diego
Sarah Lizotte (Fr., UTL) – UC San Diego
Kimberly Benedetti (Jr., 2M) - LMU
Erin Manke (So., DR) – LMU
Wren White (Sr., GK) – Santa Clara
Whitney Allen (Sr., DR) – Santa Clara
Claire Pierce (So., UTL) – Cal State East Bay
Natalie Peng (Jr., UTL) – UC San Diego
Casey Flacks (Jr., UTL) - LMU
Jayme Pekarske (Jr., GK) – Cal State East Bay
Ali Pavlik (Sr., DR) - Colorado State
Jessica Stansfield (Fr., UTL) - Sonoma States
Sam Shead (So., 2M) - Cal State Bakersfield
Chloe McRae (Sr., CTR) - Cal State Monterey Bay
Bryanna Burns (Sr., GK) - Cal State San Bernardino