Women’s Water Polo Finishes Fifth at GCC Championship; Pacific Downs San Diego State to Claim Title

Sullivan Aquatic Center
Sullivan Aquatic Center

GCC Championship Central | VIDEO: Highlights of Women's Water Polo Victory Over Fresno Pacific | All-Tournament Team

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara women's water ended the season with a victory and Pacific claimed the tournament title during Sunday's action at the Golden Coast Conference Championship.

Cathy Cantoni posted three goals and assisted on another, and Annie Eldredge scored twice and dished out two assists to lead the fifth-seeded Broncos to a 5-3 win over No. 7 seed Fresno Pacific in the fifth-place game at Sullivan Aquatic Center.

No. 2 seed and 10th-ranked Pacific scored five of the first six goals and held off top-seeded and 13th-ranked San Diego State (19-14) for an 11-7 victory in the championship game of the seven-team, three-day tournament to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAAs.

Karolina Hlavata posted three goals while Kyra Christmas and Mariana Duarte each scored twice for the Tigers (20-8) who led by as many as six goals in the second half.

Loyola Marymount, the No. 3 seed, earned third place by downing fourth-seeded Azusa Pacific, 12-4, with Caitlin Schafer leading the way with five goals and four assists and Hana Vilanova scoring three times.

The Broncos (9-20) rebounded from Friday's opening round 7-6 loss to Azusa Pacific (14-15) with a strong defensive effort against Fresno Pacific (15-16) and timely scoring.

"We struggled a little on offense, but if we play hard on defense, we're always going to be in games," Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur said. "So it was good to grind it out and end on a positive note."

Cantoni scored twice early in the third quarter to snap a 2-all tie then the Broncos killed off a pair of exclusions.

Eldredge added an even strength goal with 2:25 left in the third period to increase the lead to 5-2, but Amber Penney of the Sunbirds cut into the deficit when she rifled a shot from eight meters out past goalie Francesca Puccinelli.

But Puccinelli, who had 10 saves, and the Santa Clara defense took over from there, turning aside Fresno Pacific's remaining 10 shots.

"It was a really good team defensive effort," Wilbur said. "We had a good game plan defensively and Fran played great in the cage, actually both our senior captains (Puccinelli and Cantoni) player well."

Courtney Hall (seven saves) suffered the loss for the Cougars after surrendering all five goals in her three quarters of action. Kaylin Drum replaced her in the fourth quarter and posted three blocks.

Pacific's Kyra Christmas, who tallied a team-best seven goals in its three games, was named tournament MVP.

Puccinelli was also one of the eight players earning a spot on the team.


April 28-30 • Santa Clara University • Sullivan Aquatic Center

• Game 1: No. 3 LMU 12, No. 6 California Baptist 2 - Box Score
• Game 2: No. 2 Pacific 15, No. 7 Fresno Pacific 3 - Box Score
• Game 3: No. 4 Azusa Pacific 7, No. 5 Santa Clara 6 - Box Score

• Game 4: No. 7 Fresno Pacific 8, No. 6 California Baptist 7 (ot) - Box Score
• Game 5: No. 2 Pacific 3, No. 3 LMU 2 - Box Score
• Game 6: No. 1 San Diego State 13, No. 4 Azusa Pacific 7 - Box Score

• Game 7: No. 5 Santa Clara 5, No. 7 Fresno Pacific 3 (5th Place) - Box Score
• Game 8: No. 3 LMU 12, No. 4 Azusa Pacific 4 (3rd Place) - Box Score
• Game 9: No. 2 Pacific 11, No. 1 San Diego State 7 (Championship) - Box Score

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