Southwest Division Tournament 1 (ASU)
Our first game was an exhibition match against Arizona State University. An exhibition match is the first match against a certain team this season. Its purpose is to prevent a win-loss situation where teams are ranked lower than teams that they have beaten. We started off strong with a 5-0 lead, due to quick counter-attack goals. In the second quarter, we slowed down our counter and worked on our front-court offense. We figured out their offense pretty quickly, so our defense was solid all game long. Before the half ended, we were able to let everyone on the bench play, and we kept a varied group in until the end.
Our second game was also an exhibition match against University of Arizona. We came out with a vengeance against the Wildcats, as they were the team that beat us last year in the regional tournament. Our whole set offense struggled in the beginning, but our power-play and counter goals pushed us ahead. From there, we fueled our offense from our defense, coming up with big stops and using that momentum to score on the other end. Our coach used this time to test some of our second string players, seeing how they matched up against tougher opponents. Our defense remained solid throughout the game and we closed the game out confidently.
Sunday morning brought our toughest competition. Our game against UC Irvine was our first non-exhibition match. It was close from the beginning. They scored early and often from outside shots and post-ups, where a bigger player rotates into the center position and receives a pass for a 1 on 1 opportunity. But we always responded. Precise outside shots from freshmen Andrew Burda, Malachi Sanders, and others kept the score tied throughout the first half. The third quarter was another stalemate, a defensive struggle both ways that left the score at 8-8 going into the fourth. This was a physical and intense game, with some of the new CWPA rules coming into play, resulting in the confusion and annoyance of both teams. However, in the fourth quarter we were able to relax and calls starting going our way. We pulled ahead quickly with a couple of counter goals (thanks to our prior month of conditioning!) to make it 10-8. UCI’s frustration built up to the point where they received a brutality foul call, giving us a free shot and a man-up power-play. We scored both of these opportunities, which led to our eventual 13-9 victory. All in all, it was a great showing of our perseverance and ability to adapt. We played our game and won because of it. Despite, the intensity of the game, frustration, and brutality call, no one was injured and everyone respectfully shook hands at the end of the game.
Our last game was against University of San Diego. They are a smaller team, who we did not have to worry about last year, but this year they had some competitors. We started the game off tired from our last struggle, but our defense kept the score low until we could start scoring. Once we found our groove, it was a smooth game until the end. Everyone got to play, and the starters got a well-deserved rest in the last quarter.
Within the team, traveling was smooth as could be and we all had fun. Overall, great 4-0 weekend!