April 30, 2010
By Zach Balside
Athletic Media Relations
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Facing an uphill battle against third-seeded Cal State East Bay, a team that won 21 games this year and only lost three conference matchups, the CSU women's water polo team was going to need someone to step up and come through in the clutch.
Aspen Rapp played that role for the Rams on Friday at the Western Water Polo Association championships at the Hillman Aquatic Center.
Rapp, a junior, who had never scored more than two goals in a game in her career, deposited five balls behind East Bay goalie Lauren Merrill as CSU defeated the Pioneers, 10-8.
"It was a breakout game for her," coach Mike Moody said of Rapp. "It was very exciting to watch her play. For three years she has been working hard and it was so great to see her play that way."
CSU has advanced to the WWPA semifinals for the first time in program history. The Rams will play No. 18 UC San Diego, who defeated Sonoma State 10-7 earlier Friday, at 2 p.m. MT Saturday.
One more win and the Rams will be playing for an NCAA tournament berth.
In the last conference tournament of their careers, seniors Sarah Ostling and Katy Armstrong both had a huge impact in the outcome of the first-round matchup, tallying two goals apiece. Armstrong also added three assists.
"Our seniors played with experience, determination and heart," Moody said.
The Rams took a 6-3 lead heading into halftime, and were able to hold off the Pioneers over the last two quarters to get the milestone win.
Kallie Berry, who was named second-team all-WWPA earlier in the week, added a goal, and goalie Melissa Fisher notched nine saves in the victory.
"They played exceptionally well," Moody said. "We played a really smart offensive game and we pushed on the counter-attack."
Reaching the conference semifinals is a huge breakthrough for the Rams, and their success can be credited to playing well at the right time.
"We're hitting our stride and playing with confidence," Moody said. "But most importantly, we're playing as a team."
CSU faced UC San Diego on April 11, pulling off an 8-4 upset win over the then-No. 17 Tritons. It was CSU's first win against a ranked opponent in school history.
"It's a new game," Moody said of the rematch. "It's the semifinals. The intensity will be there. It's going to be a tough, physical game."
The winner of Saturday's matchup will face the winner of the Loyola Marymount-Cal State Bakersfield contest for the conference championship.
CSU vs. Cal State East Bay - April 30, 2010
Hillman Aquatic Center - Bakersfield, Calif.
CSU Goal Scorers: Rapp 5, Ostling 2, Armstrong 2, Berry
CSUEB Scorers: Pierce 2, Warren 2, Comforti 2, Bryan, Gelet
Goalie Saves: Fisher (CSU) 9; Merrill (CSU EB) 2