Facing a familiar foe, located not too far from home, the Gannon University women’s water polo team squared off against Penn State Behrend for the first of four games in the Penn State Behrend Invitational Feb. 25-26 at the Junker Center.
Throughout the season, the Knights have shown some improvement at each invitational. The Penn State Behrend Invitational was no exception as the team won three matches against Penn State Behrend, La Salle University and Washington & Jefferson College, with its only loss in its closest match against Villanova University.
The tournament action left Gannon with an overall record of 5-7 going into the George Washington Invitational, set for Saturday in the nation’s capital.
There, the Knights will take on Saint Francis University, Virginia Military Institute and host George Washington.
At the Behrend Invitational, Gannon started off hot in its early morning matchup against the host school by getting a goal in the first 30 seconds from Francesca Williamson.
Behrend matched the goal in the first period, but a minute after the Lions’ goal, Campbell Ruh scored to give Gannon a lead that it would never let go. By the end of the first quarter, the Knights led 4-1.
In an impressive second quarter, Ruh scored three of the eight Gannon goals to lead to a 12-3 halftime score. Even with a streak by Behrend in the final period, it didn’t matter as Gannon cruised to a 16-7 win. Ruh’s four goals led the way and Alison Cooney contributed three to go with two goals apiece from Grace Villano, Abby Quinn and Williamson.
The momentum continued Saturday against La Salle in the afternoon matchup.
In the first quarter, Gannon started off hot again with the first four goals of the match leading to a 5-1 lead by the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, the defense commanded the game. The Explorers failed at their every attempt to score in the quarter, and Gannon owned a 9-1 lead at halftime.
The onslaught continued for the Knights going into the second half. La Salle was never able to catch the right stream as it fell to Gannon, 15-3. The two victories culminated in a day one sweep for Gannon.
Liz Barr scored four goals to pace the Knights while Villano added three and Cooney, Makayla Williams and Williamson each netted two.
Hoping to continue their streak of wins at the Junker Center, Gannon faced off against Villanova in a Sunday morning matchup. Ruh once again started off hot, putting Gannon on the scoreboard for a 1-0 lead in the first. After a back-and-forth battle, the Knights held a 3-2 lead going into the second quarter.
The second quarter, much like the first, featured the two teams challenging each other in back-and-forth action. Gannon pulled through another quarter on top of the scoreboard, leading 5-4 at halftime.
After halftime, the Knights struggled to keep up with Villanova’s relentless attack. The Wildcats pulled a 3-1 advantage in the quarter, taking their lead at 7-6, which they wouldn’t let go. Tasting the win, the Wildcats quickly extended the lead to 9-6, and that’s all she wrote. Gannon’s attack couldn’t muster a comeback, with the final result being 10-7.
Cooney and Williams each scored twice in the loss.
Following the tough loss, and first of the tournament, the Knights came to battle with a vengeance against Washington & Jefferson, scoring four of the first five goals in the opening quarter to build a 4-1 lead.
However, Washington & Jefferson picked up momentum and bounced back to trail by only one at half. After halftime, the Knights were not letting this game slip away. They tightened their grip and were on fire in the water.
In the third-quarter onslaught, Gannon pulled away to an 11-5 lead going into the fourth. The defense held the Presidents in check as the team coasted to a 12-7 win to round out the tournament.
Barr’s four goals led the attack while Ruh, Cooney and Williamson each contributed two scores.