The University of Redlands women's water polo team battled until the bitter end but came up short in a must-win scenario on Saturday morning against the Whittier College Poets. The Bulldogs worked to tie it up in the third quarter but ultimately suffered a season-ending, 7-10 loss.
The Maroon and Gray took advantage of its early possession and scored the first goal less than 35 seconds into the game. Senior center Kolby Kahahawai (Kailua, HI) fired one into the back of the net for Redlands' 1-0 lead.
The teams traded scores over the next few minutes to tie it up at two apiece by the end of the first frame. For Redlands, senior attacker Katelyn Jenkins (Bellevue, WA) scored on a five-meter penalty shot with 4:44 remaining.
However, the Poets opened things up with a three-goal scoring spurt to start the second stanza.
Nonetheless, Jenkins ended the Bulldogs' drought midway through the period to make it 3-5.
After the Poets scored back-to-back goals early in the third, the Maroon and Gray began its comeback with an impressive offensive surge. Jenkins initiated the run with a score at the 6:55-mark before junior attacker Hunter Olivier (Indio, CA) made a huge steal that set up senior utility player Breanna O'Dea's (Rowland Heights, CA) goal on the ensuing possession. Olivier also drew a key ejection, which allowed the Bulldogs to convert on the 6-on-5 when senior attacker Sami Walker (Taylorsville, UT) found an open Jenkins for the Bulldogs' third goal of the frame. Jenkins served as the playmaker on the game-tying goal when she connected with Olivier with 4:06 left on the third-quarter clock.
The teams battled back-and-forth without either giving an inch for the next few minutes. Finally, with 23 seconds left in the third, Whittier scored its first of three final goals to steal the win.
Redlands had its final chances but could not convert in the fourth quarter.
Senior goalkeeper Kelly Grosswendt (Newbury Park, CA) provided six saves and one steal in a fine effort.
Redlands not only needed to win but had to do so with a six-goal differential in order to qualify for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament.
The Bulldogs complete the 2019 season with a 14-16 overall record and a 7-7 conference mark to tie for fifth place in the standings. With 14 overall wins and seven SCIAC victories, Head Coach Chris Gielen put together his best season at Redlands in his fifth year.