Men’s Water Polo, #17 in Nation, Nears SCIAC Playoffs

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team picked up three wins last week against CMS, Occidental, and Concordia, and is now ranked #17 Nationally and #1 in Division III. The Hens will play four more conference games against Caltech, Cal Lutheran, Redlands, and La Verne before the SCIAC Championships in mid-November.

The Hens edged out the Stags 7-5 in a packed Haldeman pool in front of fans from all five colleges—and scouts from other SCIAC teams—on Saturday, Oct. 16. The score was tied 1-1 after the first quarter, but the Hens quickly pulled ahead in the second with three goals compared to the Stags’ one. In the third they shut down the Stags while putting two more goals in the back of the net. Going into the fourth quarter the Hens led 6-2, and victory seemed certain. The Stags battled back with three goals, while the Hens added only one, narrowly holding onto their lead. The buzzer sounded with the score sealed at 7-5: a victory for the Sagehens in their first conference match.

Goalie Kyle Pokorny PO ‘12 made eight saves, while Ryan Balikian PO ‘11 scored three goals. Jason Cox PI ’13, Ryan Higgins PO ’14, Cody Moore PO ’13, and Mark Hudnall PO ’13 scored one goal apiece. Ben Hadley PO ‘11 had an impressive five steals, while Hudnall also had four steals of his own.

Their second conference match, against the Whittier Poets, had a less fortunate outcome. The Hens spent the whole game catching up to the Poets but lagged just slightly behind, losing 6-5.

After this disappointment, the Hens bounced right back as they solidly defeated Occidental 13-5 in the first game of a doubleheader. This was the crucial match for the Sagehens to retain control over SCIAC. CMS and Occidental both defeated Whittier earlier this year, so the Hens’ victory over both teams bodes well for the conference playoffs.

In the match against Oxy, Hadley led the Hens with four goals. Jarrod Gaut PI ’14 and Hudnall both followed with two goals each. Mike Gormally PO ’11, Matt Ward PI ’11, Balikian, Higgins, and Moore all contributed a single goal to the total.

The next game of their doubleheader was against Concordia, and the Sagehens notched another win, the game ending with a final score of 8-6. The Hens immediately jumped ahead in the game, shutting down their opponents in the first quarter and allowing only one goal in the second, as they led 6-1 after the first half. Concordia outscored the Hens 5-2 in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome the Sagehens’ first half domination. Gaut and Hudnall each scored twice, while Jaron Moler PO ’12, Cox, Hadley, and Higgins scored once. Pokorny blocked another nine shots.

The Hens are coming down the home stretch on their season. If they win the SCIAC Championship (keep your fingers crossed), they will move onto the NCAA Championships in the beginning of December. If not, the Sagehens could see their season end prematurely. P-P will take on the mighty UCLA Bruins and Cal Lutheran tomorrow.