Bulldogs water polo takes down Sunbirds 23-4 in home opener

Fresno State water polo player Emily Nicholson gets ready to shoot while surrounded by Fresno Pacific University players during a home match on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

After 10 straight road matches, the Fresno State water polo team returned home Friday to face the in-town rival Fresno Pacific Sunbirds at the Fresno State Aquatics Center.

The Bulldogs defeated the Sunbirds 23-4.

The ‘Dogs have an overall record of 2-8, with all of those eight defeats coming against the top teams in the nation.

Ranked No. 15, the Bulldogs looked to gather some momentum at home before going on the road later this month.

Fresno Pacific was still looking for its first win of the season. The Sunbirds wanted to give the Bulldogs a tough battle and also gain some bragging rights.

The match started with the Bulldogs scoring first, thanks to Callie Woodruff putting the ‘Dogs up by one early in the match. Fresno Pacific managed to tie it up quickly, giving the Sunbirds hope for an even matchup and for momentum to be on their side.

However, the Bulldogs were not going to just let their lead disappear and managed to score five more goals in the quarter without allowing another goal from the Sunbirds.

With a 6-1 lead, the Bulldogs moved on to the second quarter, and again Woodruff would open up the scoring board for the Bulldogs. With total control of the match, the Bulldogs scored five more times and were only scored on once by the Sunbirds before halftime, giving the ‘Dogs a 12-2 lead.

The second half of the match started much like the rest of the match, with the Bulldogs dominating the Sunbirds and scoring first.

Unlike the other two periods, this time it was the ‘Dogs’ Megan Greenwood who scored the first goal of the second half.

For the Sunbirds, they couldn’t get anything going offensively, and defensively they couldn’t stop the Bulldogs’ attack. The Bulldogs had another six goals in the quarter, only allowing one and giving them a decisive 18-3 lead.

In the fourth and final quarter, the Bulldogs again kept the Sunbirds from creating any real momentum only allowing one goal.

Bulldog Isabella Magno opened up the scoring for the ‘Dogs, who had five goals in the quarter, giving them the win with a 23-4 final score.

The Bulldogs’ top scorers in the match were Emily Nicholson and Woodruff, both with five goals each. Also scoring for the Bulldogs were Greenwood with four goals, Trystyn Vuori with three goals and Magno, Emma Brooks, Sydney Coachman, Kyla Whitelock, Brooke Barlow, Clair Schade all with one goal apiece.

After the game, head coach Natalie Benson talked about what it meant to play against a team that is also from the Valley, and what she expects from her team after facing very tough competition early in the season.

“I thought we played well tonight from top to bottom. Our biggest point of emphasis going into this game was defense, and we were able to hold FPU to four goals,” Benson said. “This is a great opportunity for both our programs to share Fresno water polo and give all the kids that came out a look at what they could be when they grow up.”

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