Merced College women edged in pool

slynch@mercedsunstar.comOctober 10, 2012 

Karin Umemura screamed for defensive pressure and her team responded.

Down a goal with under a minute to play on Wednesday afternoon, Merced College water polo's Liz Menefee came over the top of the Cabrillo player she was defending. Menefee stole the ball at mid pool and immediately passed to Nicole Alt on the right wing, giving the Lady Devils a 2-on-1 situation.

Cabrillo's defender opted to stay with Sarah Sufuentes, allowing Alt to drive to the cage in search of the equalizing goal.

The sophomore got Seahawk goalkeeper Lexi Muschen to make the first move, but fired over the crossbar with 13 seconds to play. Cabrillo escaped with the 9-8 victory, its first ever over the Lady Devils.

"That final play summed up the entire game," Umemura said. "Just missed opportunities. We practice one-on-ones every day, but still missed five or six of them. We have no one to blame but ourselves."

Behind quick goals from Courtney Frampton and Menefee, MC (1-2 Coast Conference, 11-4) threatened to break the game open in the first quarter.

The Lady Devil defense created a number of breaks, but MC failed to beat Muschen (14 saves) in one-on-one faceoffs.

That allowed Cabrillo to get its counter-attack going.

Led by Shelby White's team-high four goals, Cabrillo took a 5-4 lead into intermission. It never gave it up.

Menefee and Frampton each had four goals and two assists in the loss.

Merced just missed out on a sweep as the men's team handled Cabrillo 18-10 earlier in the afternoon.

Defense has been an issue for Scott McCall's squad, with one five or six-goal quarter proving the difference in a number of close losses.

McCall's issued a challenge to his team to keep opponents under 10 goals.

The Blue Devils weren't quite able to achieve that at home on Wednesday, but the offense more than made up for it.

JT Lightfoot and Connor Greene led the way with a team-high four goals.

MC (1-2 CC, 8-14) broke things open in the second quarter with a 4-0 run in just over two minutes. Kevin Richey made eight saves.

"It was nice to go out and get a comfortable win, but I was still disappointed with the defense at times," McCall said. "We scored seven goals in the second quarter, but we still had let downs and gave up five.

"It'd be nice for us to go out and play with intensity from start to finish."

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