The Silicon Valley Voice

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Rivalry Water Polo Game Goes Full Throttle

Neither Wilcox Head Coach Scott Blake nor Santa Clara Head Coach Aja Bumbaca were particularly happy with the officiating in the Chargers 7-4 victory over the Bruins on Tuesday. Wilcox would score six times before the Bruins managed to find the back of the net. While Santa Clara struggled with shooting accuracy early on, they certainly weren’t getting any breaks on the calls from the officials either.

“I tend not to be the coach that argues with refs. As you could tell by my speech that’s not what I was arguing,” remarked coach Bumbaca after the game. “I was simply arguing for the safety of the players on both sides. That being said, if our girls would have come out first quarter and play how they play normally, the score would have reflected differently.”

“I’ve known Aja for a long time, and we both had some issues with the officiating,” added Blake. “The problem with a rivalry game is that it gets exciting, it gets emotional, I’m sure you could hear both coaches and the fans, it just gets too intense.”

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In one particular sequence, Bruins goalkeeper Janna Crocker appeared to be held down under water by a Wilcox player while the ball was in the process of being turned over to the Chargers. Crocker barely had time to get back into position to defend her net as the Chargers scored a goal. There was no call on the play.

“The refs should have called that a foul,” noted Bumbaca. “It was a clear foul, just an ordinary foul that could allow the refs to control the game.”

Certainly, the Bruins couldn’t pin the loss entirely on the officials, as most of their first-half shots were either wide of the cage or right at Chargers keeper Lindsey Laughlin.

“We weren’t putting the ball in the cage, that’s the bottom line,” said Bumbaca. “We did work on shooting at practice yesterday, so I’m not sure what happened.”

One of the Bruins who did have a strong game shooting was Annika Mujushi, who scored two of the Bruins’ four goals.

“Their goalie is really good, so we worked a lot on shooting lobs over her head and pump fakes,” explained Mujushi. “I’m pretty sure my goals were both lobs.”

While Laughlin’s job defending the cage was made relatively easy in the first half, the Bruins drastically improved their shooting in the second half. It took a number of incredible stops from Laughlin to keep the Bruins from roaring all the way back to tie. Santa Clara would cut the score to 6-4, but couldn’t get enough shots past the Chargers star goalie.

“She saved the game for us,” commented coach Blake on his goalkeeper. “We were in the position of having given up four unanswered and we were letting girls shoot from way too close. Our goalkeeper came through and literally saved the game. Player of the game for sure.”

“Yeah,” shrugged Laughlin nonchalantly when asked if this was one of her best games. “I feel like with each game I’ve improved so it’s always fun to come out and see what different shots I’m able to stop.”

With the victory the Chargers improve to 3-2 in league play. The loss drops the Bruins to 2-2. A rematch between the two schools will take place Oct. 10.

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