Late Goals Help Water Polo Stay Perfect

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team edged out Chapman University 10-9 on Wednesday afternoon, pulling off the win despite spending most of the game trying to catch the Panthers. The win improves the Sagehens’ overall record to 11-13 and gives them a 7-0 SCIAC record going into the final match tomorrow against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

The Sagehens started off the match slowly, with Chapman taking an early 2-0 lead and keeping the advantage through the first half. After two quarters, the Sagehens trailed 5-3. 

“We didn’t start out well,” Head Coach Alex Rodriguez said.

He added that Jason Cox PO ’13, who has been excelling offensively throughout his last season with the Sagehens, scored all three Sagehen goals that put pressure on the Panthers throughout the first half. 

Relying on Cox’s goals for offense, the Sagehens played a defensively solid first half that prevented the Panthers from running away with the lead. Most of the first half was dedicated to keeping the Panther offense at bay, allowing the Sagehens to warm up a bit.

Starting with the beginning of the second half, however, the Sagehens kicked their offense into gear.

Cody Moore PO ’13 scored the first goal of the half, narrowing the Panther lead to one right off the bat. The Sagehens got more aggressive on the counterattack, which was led by Ryan Higgins PO ’14. 

“We started getting counters in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “Higgins was able to get free a couple of times.”

The amount of sprint swimming needed to chase down the Sagehens during their breakaway counterattacks started to wear down the Panthers. Losing breakaways are a sign of a team having difficulty transitioning from offense to defense, and they typically occur due to a slight lack of awareness in transitioning to defense. 

The Sagehens saw their chance to take the game after an offensively slow first half. Chapman scored after Moore’s goal in the third, but Clayton Hardman PO ’15 and Higgins tied the score six minutes later.

Chapman followed with another goal to reclaim their one-goal lead, but after that point the Panthers lost the advantage for the rest of the game. The Sagehens took a stab at the Panther morale, with Hardman scoring at the buzzer to end the third quarter, tying the score at seven going into the fourth.

The Sagehens had their first lead of the game toward the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Stephen Vint PZ ’15 scored first, and for the rest of the game, Chapman tried unsuccessfully to regain the lead from the first half. The fourth quarter went back and forth, with Chapman scoring following Vint, Higgins taking back the lead for the Sagehens and Chapman scoring again for the final time to tie the score at nine. Neither team could decisively take the lead, but neither would give it up.

It seemed like the game would go into overtime as the fourth quarter dwindled into the final minute with the score tied at nine. Cox, who had remained on the down-low since scoring the first three goals, came up big with the final goal at 53 seconds left. The Sagehens held down the fort for the rest of the game, solidifying their first seed with an undefeated record in the SCIAC.

Cox also supported the Sagehens offensively through the 12-3 loss to number 10 University of California, San Diego last weekend, scoring two of the three Sagehen goals. The third came from Mark Hudnall PO ’13. The Sagehens comfortably defeated fellow SCIAC opponent Caltech 18-6 after the UC San Diego match despite another slow start, holding a 3-2 lead at the beginning of the second quarter. Travis Larsen PO ’15 and Philip Clayman PO ’16 led the Sagehen offense with four goals each.

The Sagehens will have their final two home games and regular season games this weekend with a match today against Air Force at 1 p.m. and their final match against CMS tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The Saturday night final home-game setting will certainly make for an exciting match against the Sagehens’ cross-street rivals, the Stags. 

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