Summer 2024 /Global Pomona/

A Three-Peat for Women’s Water Polo

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team celebrates another USA Water Polo title by jumping into the pool at the end of the match.

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo team celebrates another USA Water Polo title by jumping into the pool at the end of the match.

It’s time to call the Pomona-Pitzer women’s water polo program a D-III dynasty after a third consecutive USA Water Polo Division III national championship.

The Sagehens claimed the title with a 15-10 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the final of the four-team national championship tournament May 5 at Haldeman Pool. Kaylee Stigar ’25 led the way with a hat trick and added three assists and three steals to her three goals to earn the tournament’s most valuable player award.

For the sixth consecutive season—including COVID-shortened 2020—the Sagehens dominated the SCIAC, going undefeated in regular-season conference play. But their 25-10 overall record hints at one of the reasons for their D-III dominance. Each year, the Sagehens take on Division I teams in nonconference games as they test themselves—and prepare for the USA Water Polo championship that was created to provide a competition for D-III teams that otherwise had no option except the single-division NCAA championship dominated by Division I teams.

“We don’t let Division III define us,” says Assistant Coach Alex La, who helmed the team this season with Head Coach Alex Rodriguez on sabbatical. “We define who we are. We always want to take on the best and really see where we stack up.”

Captains Abby Wiesenthal ’24, Madison Lewis ’24 and Namlhun Jachung PZ ’24 took their lumps as younger starters playing against the best programs in the country. But punching above their weight served a greater purpose.

Wiesenthal, a molecular biology major who led the team with 42 regular-season goals, remembers a time two years ago when she and her teammates entered preseason tournaments in awe.

“We have to play USC?” she recalls thinking. “They have Olympians on their team.”

A healthy reverence for top programs fuels the Sagehens’ competitive spirit. In 2023, Pomona-Pitzer knocked off Division I Indiana. This past season, the Sagehens beat Marist College and Brown University twice.

“This year, I think everybody expected to win those games, especially the seniors, who really want to leave a legacy,” La says. “Our program has always been about ‘Who can we knock off? How good can we be?’”

In end-of-season conference honors, Jachung repeated as SCIAC Athlete of the Year while goalkeeper Zosia Amberger ’25 earned her second SCIAC Defensive Athlete of the Year award. La and his assistants received Coaching Staff of the Year honors.