Indiana Water Polo Makes 4th Quarter Comeback Over UCSB

by SwimSwam 0

January 27th, 2018 College, Water Polo

Press Release courtesy of Indiana Athletics

The Hoosiers ended their first day of home competition with the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center’s wildest game in years.

The stands were packed with fans hanging on every action. The Crabb Band filled the rest of the complex with a wall of sound at every stoppage. The environment, more raucous than any previous home experience for the current team, lifted No. 12 IU when they needed it most in their dramatic 7-6 win over No. 14 UC Santa Barbara.

“You play away games, and other teams have bands at their home games which makes you wonder how cool that would be to experience,” said Mollie Williams after scoring four goals in the win, which tied her career high. “Having that for ourselves hyped us up along with the support of our friends and family. It gave us a fire that helped us regain the lead.”

Game 4: No. 12 Indiana 7, No. 14 UC Santa Barbara 6 // Box Score
Team              1 – 2 – 3 – 4 | F 
USCB:            2 – 0 – 4 – 0 | 6
IU:                   2 – 2 – 1 – 2 | 7
Offense: Williams (4g), Myers (1g, 1a), Young (1g, 1a)
Defense: Gaudreault (10 saves, 3 steals); Williams, Myers, Young with 2 steals each

The Hoosiers (3-1) needed a boost for their fourth quarter comeback, trailing 6-5 after a four-goal surge by the Gauchos in the third. Indiana regrouped in that quarter break, and whatever coach Ryan Castle said in the huddle played out in the pool.

“It was just to go back to what had been the bread and butter of our team in the first half,” Castle said. “UC Santa Barbara’s strength is to always counterattack, and when we let them swim at us they scored a bunch of goals. When we started swimming at them, we put them on the back foot and they weren’t able to capitalize.”

The result? Indiana found two scores and a fourth quarter shutout to regain the lead and hold it. Senior center Sarah Young, after three and a half quarters of battling in the trenches at 2 meters, grabbed IU’s equalizer after forcing herself free from a blanket of defenders.

“A kid that wants to play and wants to win will find a way, regardless of what her body tells her,” Castle commented on Young’s goal. “She found a way. She’s a very persistent character who leads well and inspires the kids around her.”

That play set up Indiana’s game-winning opportunity, which came from a place the Gauchos didn’t see coming. Young flipped a pass to Hoosier freshman Jessica Rodriguez, who created space and lofted a shot over the goalkeeper’s lunge and into the side netting. Rodriguez’s second career goal was arguably the biggest of her budding college career to date.

The late-game theatrics fail to overshadow the standout performances of the night. The first came from Williams, who had a hat trick before the end of the first half and scored Indiana’s first three goals. Two of those came at a considerable distance from the cage, when she saw openings past the field block attempt.

Williams also swiped two steals and drew three exclusions for power plays.

“She can create, like on that goal she scored to take a 5-2 lead. That was pure class,” Castle commented on the versatility from his sophomore All-American. “Defensively, she calms us down, but within that the defense is a team effort.”

The team defense was Indiana’s other show-stealer. As Castle said, when you have Jessica Gaudreault in cage and Kelly Matthews guarding at 2 meters, it’s easy to find composure. Gaudreault registered 10 saves, made three steals, and didn’t allow goals in the second and fourth quarters. Matthews, alongside fellow senior Sarah Myers, covered the task of covering the Gauchos’ toughest offensive assignments.

Indiana’s defense killed all six UCSB power plays. They are 30-for-34 (88.2%) on power play kills this season.

“The easiest way to deflate is to learn about what you went wrong,” Castle added, throwing a dose of humility on the Hoosiers’ exciting win. “But our kids are committed to their goals. This is just one step to where they want to be. If this is the highlight of our season, we need to adjust why we’re playing the game. This is a big win for us, but we still have a lot of water polo to play and we have a lot of mistakes to correct.”

Up Next: No. 12 Indiana (3-1) vs. No. 25 Iona (0-1) 
Sunday, Jan. 28 • 12:00 p.m. ET • Live Stats • BTN Plus
Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center • Bloomington, Ind.

The Hoosiers have zero days off to celebrate the win. In fact, they have just over 12 hours before turning around to face their fifth consecutive top-25 team. Their day begins at noon against the Gaels, who dropped their season opener on Friday against No. 19 Harvard.

The Hoosiers will close the home slate against McKendree on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. before hitting the road for eight consecutive road games.

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