Notre Dame College Falls to Gannon University, 10-9, to Finish Sixth at Western Division Championship Tournament
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Notre Dame College Falcons closed out the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Western Divisional Championship with a 10-9 loss to Gannon University to take sixth place at Indiana University's Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.
Notre Dame (6-16) was highlighted
by a breakout game by freshman Gina-Bella Mata'afa
who recorded a career-high four goals in what was a highly
contested rematch with the Golden Knights.
"Again we started the game in a hole, but Gina seemed to be on a personal mission,” said Head Coach Matt Kittle. “She did it on both ends of the pool. Without her play we would not have been able to make it a game in the last two minutes."
After NDC and Gannon battled through a scoreless opening 75 seconds, Gannon (12-19) jumped out to a 3-0 lead through the opening quarter.
Emily Sullivan extended Gannon's lead to 4-0 at the 5:43 mark of the second period before Elena Williams netted her seventh of the season 90 seconds later.
Over four minutes would expire before Michelle Berrios brought Notre Dame within two (4-2) with 11 seconds remaining. That goal would conclude the opening half scoring with Gannon holding a 4-2 edge at the break.
Mata'afa entered the second half with a force, scoring her first of the game in the first 54 seconds. The Maui, Hawaii, native received a pass from fellow Hawaiian, Kanoe Lyons at the 7:06 mark. That goal, Mata'afa's 21st of the season cut Gannon's lead to one (4-3).
Back-to-back goals in 29 seconds opened the game back to a three goal cushion for Gannon with 6:11 to play in the third.
It took Notre Dame over three minutes to answer the Golden Knights, but Lyons dished out her second assist – 17th of the season when she found Berrios at the 3:07 mark.
Next Williams found Mata'afa as the Lahinaluna graduate scored her second of the day to cut the Golden Knights lead to one (6-5).
Williams and Lyons connected to knot the score a six's with 80 second s remaining in the third period. The goal for Lyons gave the Hilo, Hawaii, native her 36th, breaking Mariya Smith's single-program of 35 set in 2011.
The third quarter would close with the score level, 6-6, setting the stage for another dramatic finish between the Golden Knights and Falcons.
Mata'afa opened the fourth quarter with a powerful backhand shot that beat Libbie Guina sailed into the upper 90 giving the Notre Dame is first lead of the game, 7-6, with 7:30 to play.
Gannon responded within three-quarters of a minute to tie the game for the second time (7-7). That goal started a 4-0 run by the Golden Knights that ended when Berrios scored her 29th of the season with 3:12 remaining.
Berrios's goal came courtesy of a powerful Mata'afa shot that struck the crossbar and fell into the hands of the crashing Sacramento, Calif., native for an easy finish.
Notre Dame pressed looking for a way back into the game. The Falcons found that chance through Mata'afa. The freshman continued to enjoy her breakout game with a powerful move around the 2-meter area before finishing her fourth of the game -- 24th of the season. and finish with 19 seconds left. The goal brought the Falcons within one (10-9) and gave the freshman her first four goal game and eighth multi-goal game of the season.
Over the final 19 seconds the Falcons continued to press the Golden Knights, but Notre Dame was not able to come up with the decisive steal needed to force overtime. As the horn sounded Notre Dame dropped to 6-16 on the season suffering a 10-9 loss to Gannon.
The Falcons were led on defense by Williams with seven steals and Berrios with three drawn exclusions to go along with three steals.
Senior goalkeeper Victoria Cliff ended with seven saves on 20 Gannon shots.
Release courtesy Notre Dame Athletic Communications