A day after defeating Palomar College 8-7 in triple overtime, Pierce’s women’s water polo team’s premiere season came to close at the Southern California Regionals at Fullerton College on Saturday, losing to Fullerton 14-5.
Pierce was ranked 10th going into the regionals and took Palomar, ranked 7th, by surprise. But Pierce found itself in uncharted waters against Fullerton, who was ranked 2nd in the state.
Head coach Moriah Van Norman said that the long season had been overkill for her first-year team.
“Fullerton’s not nine goals better than us as a team. My girls are just tired,” Van Norman said.
Van Norman felt that her team’s first season burned out when her players burned out.
“It’s been a long season and I don’t have a lot of subs,” Van Norman said. “In fact, I usually don’t sub at all during a game.”
After sweeping the Western State Conference and stealing the title from four-time defending champs Ventura College earlier this month, freshman center Sam Buliavac said her team did what they set out to do.
“Our goal was to win conference,” Buliavac said. “And then after we won conference, everyone just felt like we did what we needed to do.”
Buliavac felt there were some shortcomings the fledgling sports team had to face throughout its opening season.
“Considering that half the girls who’re playing have never played before or haven’t really had the experience as some of us, we just grew,” Buliavac said. “I can’t wait for next season.”
Freshman attacker Maggie Kurzeka echoed Buliavac’s sentiments.
“Our team really gave it what we had left after conference,” Kurzeka said.
The team will be back next season with a WSC title in its back pocket and, Van Norman hopes, a few more sophomores.
“I love being part of a team that’s a first-year program. Coming out, showing what we’ve got, surprising everyone and making it to regionals was a great experience for our whole team,” Kurzeka said.