Women’s water polo splits the weekend, going 2-2

Kelsey O'Loughlin, Contributing Writer

Last weekend, the Bison women’s water polo team traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich. to compete in the Wolverine Invite. The women started the weekend on a high note with an impressive win over Iona by a score of 13-6. The 22nd-ranked Bison scored early in the first period. Ally Furano ’21 began the momentum swing for the Bison, as she scored shortly after a saved penalty shot at 4:21. Teammate Kali Hyham ’21 joined in on the action, scoring 40 seconds after to bring the Bison to a 3-0 lead. Iona was able to score in the first quarter, but it was the Bison who responded with four goals in five minutes during the second period. Two goals from Paige Furano ’22 to start and end the second quarter were made possible by the opening sprint victory by Nina Benson ’20. At the half, the Orange and Blue led by a score of 7-1.

Following Iona, the Bison faced off against Saint Francis (Pa.), and won with a score of 10-5. The Bison fell behind early in the first period, which marked the first time the Bison have trailed since their match against Wagner. A. Furano made it 1-1 with a penalty shot at the five-meter mark. Again, A. Furano was able score off another penalty to give the Bison a 5-1 lead halfway through the second quarter. Starting the second period, Benson dished an assist to P. Furano with 30 seconds on the board. With her third penalty, A. Furano scored 43 seconds before Hyham added to the Bison lead. At the half, the Bison led 6-2, now with an additional goal from the Red Flash. At 3:45 in the third, St. Francis closed the gap to be within four. A. Furano made two consecutive, clutch goals to pave the way to a 10-5 victory. Goalkeeper Hayley Pogue ’20 saved three shots and Gigi Rojahn ’20 contributed two assists.

Rojahn said that the early deficit didn’t keep the team’s morals down, as they kept the pursuit alive and strong. “We never really saw ourselves as in a deficit so we kept playing the way that we know how. Our spirits were high and we kept shooting despite feeling like our shots weren’t going in,” Rojahn said.

On Sunday, the team began the day against No. 15 Long Beach State. The Bison trailed early in the first, before A. Furano scored and tied the game at one. Rojahn and P. Furano provided the assists with 6:25 left. The first quarter ended with the Bison trailing 2-5 as the penalty shot by A. Furano halted the 4-0 run by the 49ers. A. Furano and Benson added two goals but Long Beach answered with three goals to lead 10-5 at the midway point. Going into the third, Benson’s power play convinced the 49ers to take a timeout with 5:24 left. The Orange and Blue went on a 5-0 to pull within one, at a score of 12-13. The 49ers wouldn’t let that last very long, as they produced four goals at the beginning of the fourth period. Late efforts from Hyham and P. Furano did not suffice, as the 49ers won 17-14.

Later in the day, the Bison took on the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines were able to come out of the gates early to score 10 first-half goals and take a 10-4 lead into halftime. Hyham was able to cut the lead to 2-1 with 1:03 left in the first, but Michigan kept scoring goals. The Orange and Blue were unable to come up with a response in the second half and fell by a score of 15-6. Hyham scored three of the Bison’s goals with the other three coming from A. Furano, Rojahn and Benson. This loss is the Bison’s third of the season; however, all three have come to opponents ranked within the top 20.

Hyham was named the Collegiate Water Polo Association national player of the week on Feb. 18, after an impressive performance Mercyhurst Invite, as she totaled 18 goals for the weekend. The 2019 CWPA Second Team Honoree is seen as an intricate piece to the team’s success by Rojahn. “Kali plays a really important role on the team as our center. Our offense is typically designed to get the ball into center, so we all work hard to make sure that she can be successful in one of the toughest positions in the pool,” Rojahn said.

The Bison compete again at the Harvard Invitational this Saturday.

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