Jim Tranquada

After an undefeated season, the Occidental College women's water polo team lost 6-7 to the University of Redlands in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship game on May 1 in Los Flores Park, La Verne.

Although the Bulldogs defeated the No. 1 NCAA nationally ranked Tigers in a game that stretched to a fifth overtime, Occidental earned a share of the SCIAC title. The University of Redlands will go on to battle Iona College this weekend in the NCAA Division II play-in game.

Head water polo coach Larry Zubrin said that Occidental will likely rank No. 2 nationally in the final poll by the Collegiate Water Polo Association. Voted on by a panel of coaches and administrators from around the country, the poll continues to reflect the dominance of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: seven of the top 10 DIII schools are SCIAC members.

Zubrin added that the Tigers performed very well this season against some top Division I teams in the nation: No. 8-ranked Loyola Marymount, No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, and No. 17 University of the Pacific. Leading the way for the Tigers this year were 2010 All-SCIAC, All-NCAA Tournament, and All-Academic picks Karie Nickle '11, Julie Monday '11, and Tessa Bailey-Findley '12, as well as All-SCIAC pick Nanea Fujiyama '13.

"Playing this caliber of water polo is what attracts top level recruits to our college, and we'll continue rise to the level of our competition, not only in the SCIAC but in the NCAA," he said. "The team and I are already looking forward to next season and another chance at a national championship."

Occidental shocked Cal State Bakersfield, then ranked No. 20, by a score of 13-12 on Feb. 19, and took Cal State Monterey Bay to overtime before falling 14-13 on March 5. In recent conference action, Occidental defeated No. 2Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 16-10 on April 23, finishing the regular season with a perfect 7-0 record.