Sagehen men’s water polo takes down Chapman to build on strong start to season

Adam Gross PZ ’21 guards the ball from a Chapman player in the Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo home debut Sept. 22. (Chloe Ortiz • The Student Life)

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team (5-3, 2-0 SCIAC) made a splash during their home debut Sept. 23 with a 20-11 win over the Chapman Panthers (2-12, 0-2 SCIAC).

After an early 2-2 tie in the first period, the Sagehens picked up momentum and gained a 5-4 lead, which they only added to throughout the rest of the game. From this point onwards, P-P proved that the strength of their offense was no match for the Panthers.

The leading scorers of the game were Adam Ward PO ’19 and Dylan Elliot PO ’21, who each racked up an impressive four goals.

When asked about any particular highlights from this weekend’s home debut, Ward, a center on the team noted, “The amount of goals we put forward as a team was a highlight of the game for sure, as well as starting our home games off on the right note.”

Elliot agreed with Ward, and added that picking up a conference in their home pool was an added benefit.

“It’s always nice being home and playing in front of our crowd, especially for conference games,” Ward said.

The head coach of the P-P men’s water polo program, Alex Rodriguez, noted: “We had some really nice performances from several guys. Douglas Webster PZ ’21, I thought played well in the cage the second half.”

Webster had seven saves in the second half, only letting in two goals. His overall save rate turned out to be an impressive .78 by the end of the game.

However, he also pointed out a few areas of improvement the team will work on throughout their season.

“I was not happy with giving up 11 goals,” Rodriguez said. “I stated to the guys that my belief in offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”

Elliot agreed with his coach’s sentiment, describing clear room for improvement on the defensive side, while also mentioning it is still early in the season.

Another clear takeaway from this weekend’s high-scoring and action-packed game was the strength of the freshman class. In particular, Rodriguez pointed out that the twins, Sam and Ben Sasaki PO ’22, who followed their older brother Noah Sasaki PO ’21 to P-P, have brought serious talent to the team.

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Sam Sasaki PO ’22 scored three goals against Chapman at the Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo home debut Sept. 22. The Sagehens won the game 20-11.

Sam, a left-handed attacker, scored three times for the Sagehens this weekend. Speaking on his aspirations for the rest of the season, he mentioned that he wants to do “whatever it takes to help our team win a SCIAC Championship for the third year in a row, as well as win an NCAA playoff game.”

In addition to their accomplishments inside the pool, the team is incredibly cohesive as a group of individuals.

Ward, who is competing in his senior season with the Sagehens, observed, “I think our team chemistry is stronger than previous years outside of the pool and inside. It’s picking up every day.”

Elliot similarly described the squad as a “family” and “way more than just a team.”

Overall, the Sagehens’ performance against Chapman was an indicator of their potential for an extremely successful season. On Sept. 29, P-P will continue conference play against California Lutheran (4-5, 1-1 SCIAC) in Thousand Oaks, CA.

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