The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team defeated the University of Redlands Bulldogs Wednesday night 11-7 at Haldeman Pool to keep a perfect 4-0 record against SCIAC opponents. Their overall record improves to 8-12 as they go into Fall Break and prepare for the Whittier College Poets, their toughest SCIAC opponent thus far.
Jason Cox PO ’13 and Cody Moore PO ’13 carried the Sagehens through the win with five and three goals, respectively. The Sagehens maintained a comfortable lead throughout the majority of the game with a brief defensive hiccup that allowed the Bulldogs to get within one goal in the third quarter.
Philip Clayman PO ’16 scored the first goal of the match, followed by three consecutive goals from Cox to give the Hens a 4-1 lead after the first quarter. The Sagehens and Bulldogs went back and forth with two goals apiece in the second quarter, with Moore and an off-balance perimeter shot from Clayton Hardman PO ’15 keeping the Hens in the second.
The Bulldogs found a few holes in the Sagehen defense and threatened several comebacks throughout the second quarter, including a close-range lob shot and counterattack both blocked by goalie Tyler Hill PO ’14. Their comeback run finally came in the third quarter, starting with a perimeter shot goal with one second left in the second quarter.
“Water polo is about runs. We just made some mistakes, and they took advantage,” Head Coach Alex Rodriguez said of the second quarter.
A couple of missed shots on man-up opportunities and a few turnovers allowed the Bulldogs to score the next two goals in the third quarter to narrow the Sagehen lead to 6-5, but their momentum was broken by a fourth goal from Cox. The Sagehens were able to recover from their mistakes and turn the tide in their favor to close out the third.
Redlands scored once more in the third quarter, but this time the Sagehens went on a run of their own. Back-to-back goals from Cox and Moore stifled the Bulldog comeback chances and brought back the Sagehen lead.
Moore scored a final time to start off the fourth quarter, and Jarrod Gaut PZ ’14 solidified the P-P lead with a wide-open, point-blank shot on a man-up play. Redlands scored once more with three minutes left in the game, but the Sagehen defense held. A missed five-meter penalty shot from Redlands with less than a minute to go in the game kept the score at 11-7.
The Redlands defense seemed to be heavily overplaying Ryan Higgins PO ’14, last week’s SCIAC Athlete of the Week. This opened the door for other Sagehens to generate plays and opportunities, most obviously Cox and Moore converting most of the shooting opportunities for the Hens.
“We have a really well-balanced team,” Rodriguez said. “We try to force them to adjust to us.”
A constant barrage of shots from nearly everyone in the pool for the Hens, including attempts from center Gaut, sprinter Clayman and attacker Neil Forsythe PO ’16, kept the Bulldog defense on their toes and paved the way for Cox and Moore. The Sagehens also generated significantly more counterattacks than Redlands, and despite not being able to convert them all, they still wore out the Bulldog defense.
Defensively, crucial steals from Moore and Travis Larsen PO ’15 and a rebound attempt blocked by Austin Strong PO ’15 in the second half frustrated the Bulldog offense.
The Sagehens demonstrated their depth in last weekend’s 19-6 win over Occidental College. Larsen and Stephen Vint PZ ’15 each had three goals, followed by Robert Chew PO ’14, Higgins, Clayman and Trevor Roszkos PZ ’16 with two goals each. Despite the shallow pool, the P-P defense sustained a comfortable 10-1 lead at halftime, and the Tigers could not keep up. Hill and Strong split time in the cage, with nine saves and six saves in their respective halves.
The Sagehens will enjoy a brief break from practices for Fall Break and will return to prepare for Wednesday’s match against Whittier, who is also 4-0 in SCIAC. Whittier narrowly beat Redlands and California Lutheran University last week, putting them at a similar caliber to the Sagehens based on past scores. They will face their last Division I opponent, UC San Diego, followed by two more SCIAC opponents, Caltech and SCIAC’s newest addition, Chapman University, to close out October.