SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Presley Woods (Fr., Lantana, Texas/Guyer) scored three times and goalie Valery Piachonkina (Fr., Castro Valley, Calif./Mission San Jose) made 10 saves as Austin College defeated fellow first-year program Wittenberg University, 8-4, at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. on the concluding day of the final 2019 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III-West Region tournament.
The win raises Austin’s record to 5-3 as the Kangroos finish second in the CWPA Division III-West Region ranks and clinch the No. 3 seed for the upcoming CWPA Division III Championship at Connecticut College in New London, Conn., on Friday-Sunday, April 12-14.
Austin never trailed versus Wittenberg as Lexi Wong (Fr., Lantana, Texas/Guyer) put away her team’s opening tally with 7:09 left in the first quarter to stake the ‘Roos to a 1-0 lead. The Tigers posted an equalizer at 1:39 via a five-meter penalty shot by Savanah Phillips (Jr., San Diego, Calif./Grossmont), but Brooke Le (Fr., Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) torched the cage by zipping in a shot with 55 ticks on the clock. Wittenberg once again balanced the scoreboard as Calista Spring (Fr., Napoleon, Ohio/Napoleon) lined in a shot 13 seconds later to deadlock the squads at two-all through eight minutes of competition.
The ‘Roos pulled away in the second quarter with a 3-0 scoring burst as Woods (7:48, 4:58) and Shannon Berry (Fr., Austin, Texas/Westwood) (5:26) buried back-to-back-to-back volleys to push Austin out to a 5-2 lead by halftime.
The margin ballooned to 6-2 with 6:44 to go in the third quarter as Kendall Katusak (Fr., Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock) connected on a shot, but Tatum Bruno (Fr., Riverside, Ill./Riverside-Brookesfield) delivered a response at 2:10 to move the Tigers back within three at 6-3.
However, Woods (1:59) and Alyssa Albers (Fr., Lake Jackson, Texas/Brazoswood) (1:37) closed out the third quarter by hooking in heaves to expand the gap between the teams to 8-3 heading into the final frame.
Wittenberg was unable to overcome its five-goal deficit in the waning moments of the contest as a strike by Kiersten Heverly (Fr., Pottstown, Pa./The Hill School) with 2:37 left on the clock inched the Tigers within 8-4 prior to the closing horn.
For Austin, Berry, Katusak, Le, Wong and Albers all scored once to join Woods in accounting for their team’s offense.
Across the tank, Phillips, Spring, Heverly and Bruno punched in shots for Austin. Goalie Anya Bennett (Fr., Portland, Ore./Lincoln) took the loss with nine saves as the Tigers clinched Fifth Place in the West Region and the No. 9 seed in the 10-team CWPA Division III Championship.