Aztecs come up short in Golden Coast Conference title game


Alexa Oslowski

San Diego State water polo senior utility Emily Bennett prepares to shoot during the Aztecs’ 16-9 win over Cal Baptist on April 17, 2021 at the SDSU Aquaplex.

by Breven Honda, Senior Staff Writer

No. 2 seed San Diego State water polo entered Saturday’s championship with the opportunity to claim its first Golden Coast Conference tournament title since 2016. 

SDSU, who is ranked T-13 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association rankings, went up against top-seeded Fresno State, ranked No. 11 in the CWPA poll.

During the regular season, these two teams faced off at the Aztec Aquaplex and then-No.15 SDSU took down then-No. 9 Fresno State 13-12 in a thrilling game on March 27. 

That win against the Bulldogs started SDSU’s longest win streak of the season, which was at five entering the championship game. 

As the two best teams in the GCC faced off, the Bulldogs (12-5, 6-1 GCC) outscored the Aztecs (8-14, 6-1 GCC) 9-3 in the second and third periods en route to a 14-10 title win for Fresno State. 

This was the Aztecs’ first runner-up finish since 2017 and fourth since 2014. 

Aztecs’ sophomore utility Katie Ratcliff led the team with three goals. 

Senior utility Emily Bennett was right behind Ratcliff in scoring with two goals. Also, senior driver Karli Canale scored once. 

The Aztecs also got production from freshman utility Laurene Padilla, who recorded a goal and two assists.  

The Scarlet and Black tried to pull off a comeback with four minutes left in the game, but Fresno State was able to match SDSU when it scored. 

In the match against Fresno State a month ago, Aztecs junior goalkeeper Raquel de Pinho recorded 19 saves. In the championship game, she only had nine. 

For the Bulldogs, senior center Emily Nicholson scored a match-high four goals and senior attacker Claire Schaude recorded a hat trick and two assists. 

Nicholson and Schaude were named to the All-tournament team as Schaude was also named Tournament Most Valuable Player. Bennett and de Pinho were also named to the All-Tournament team. 

If the Aztecs hope to play again this season, it will come at the NCAA Tournament May 14-16 at UCLA as an at-large bid. 

The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on May 7.