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Dec 13, 2018
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Freshman Callie Woodruff at last weekend’s UCSB Gaucho Invitational. The ‘Dogs finished 1-3 to win their first game in program history. (Fresno State Athletics)

Water polo struggles in inaugural games

Fresno State Water Polo began its inaugural season this weekend with a 1-3 record at the University of California Santa Barbara Gaucho Invitational.

Day one, on Saturday, brought the ‘Dogs their first victory in program history when they beat California State University Northridge 10-9 in the second half of a doubleheader.

The two teams were tied 5-5 going into the fourth quarter, but Fresno State managed to find a rhythm early in that quarter. The ‘Dogs established a 9-6 lead with just over three minutes left on the clock.

The Matadors rallied back, but the ‘Dogs’ lead proved to be insurmountable. Freshmen Claire Schade and Callie Woodruff each finished the game with three goals.

But the ‘Dogs were unable to find much success against their other three opponents.

In the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader, the team lost to No. 13 Indiana.

The ‘Dogs were able to keep it close in the first quarter thanks to a pair of goals from senior Gabrielle Wiltse. The Hoosiers led 3-2 going into the second quarter.

The Hoosiers tapped into that nationally renowned potential in the second quarter and pulled away. They went into the half with an 8-4 lead thanks to a 4-0 run to close the half.

The Hoosiers never looked back and won, 12-6. Then on the second day of the invitational, the ‘Dogs lost twice.

The first loss came against the Chinese National Team. Again, the ‘Dogs found themselves in a tight game early on and failed to carry that effort throughout the game.

The ‘Dogs went into the half only down by one score, but by the end of the third quarter, the ‘Dogs were down 9-5. Fresno State lost 13-6.

The final game against the hosts of the invitational was much more lopsided. The ‘Dogs never ended a quarter with a lead, or a deficit smaller than two.

By the end of the first half, the ‘Dogs found themselves facing an 8-3 deficit. The second half was not much different, and the ‘Dogs lost to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, 12-7.

“This group grew a tremendous amount in our first weekend of play, and now have a better understanding of the pace of play at the collegiate level,” head coach Natalie Benson said. “We’re proud of their effort, and look forward to watching them grow throughout the season.”

Fresno State’s next tests will come in the Cal Cup Invite, which is another set of four games spread over two days, Jan. 27 to 28.

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