Veronica Barriga/Courier - PCC Water Polo player, Zuri Pulido attempts a goal during a game vs Rio Hondo College last Wednesday in Whitter. October 26, 2016
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Fifth place was ever so close.

PCC’s water polo team barely missed winning 5th place in the final day of the South Coast Conference Championship Tournament Sat, Nov. 5, in a nail-biting, hard-fought 9-8 loss to Rio Hondo in its home pool.

At the first round of the championship the day before, the team lost to Mt. San Antonio 10-2. The point difference could have been explained the following day when it became obvious how good the opponent was. Mt. SAC ended up playing Long Beach for the 12-team SCC Championship.

“I have one of the best teams that I’ve had in coaching women’s water polo,” coach Terry Stoddard said. “But the record doesn’t show it.”

“We’ve been close but we have not been able to win. Our ‘offensive production’ is not good; we are not scoring goals,” he said. Players have averaged six goals per game, according to Stoddard.

Scoring the eight goals in the 9-8 final Championship game were Irma Sarac, Ellie White, Jasmine Abriel, and Zuri Pulido, the team’s scoring leader. White and Pulido scored the two goals in Friday’s game.

“We have to work on finishing goals and getting on their legs,” Pulido said. However, she followed up by saying, “We always play our hardest.”

“Taking care of defense,” Stoddard said, is goalie Clarque De Young, a sophomore recognized as being one the best goalies in the SCC, according to pcclancers.com.

A factor contributing to the imbalanced loss-to-win record could be the team’s lack of players.

“We’ve been plagued with injuries,” said Stoddard. “We had a concussion, one with a herniated disc, asthma, sicknesses, and one freshman started the season with an injury.”

“We started the season with 15 and we played with nine,” Stoddard added, referring to Friday’s game.

At that game, player Christy Lam was injured. Almost no reserve Lancers were available during both championship games while opposing teams had numerous relief players.

“It’s been the freshmen who’ve been out,” Stoddard said, noting that “the freshmen are the best prepared team as freshmen.”

In spite of the sidelined players, Stoddard said, “it provided an opportunity for them to step up. They feel responsible to fill in. They’ve had a lot of games to learn how to fill in the gap. They have played well.”

“All we can do is bring our best game and do our best,” he said.

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