After a long day of competitive water polo, the Gary Troyer Memorial Invitational came to a close last Saturday, Oct. 5, with a game between Pomona-Pitzer and Long Beach State. P-P’s men’s water polo team split their two games on the day, battling for an 11-6 win over Fresno Pacific University, but falling in a 19-6 loss to Long Beach State. The Hens concluded the two-day invitational with a 1-3 record. The Hens overall record is now 3-12, with seven losses coming against nationally ranked opponents.
The Gary Troyer Memorial Invitational was hosted by P-P and fellow SCIAC competitors University of La Verne and Whittier College, and is one of the Sagehens’ largest tournaments of the year. A total of 21 teams participated at P-P’s Haldeman Pool, Whittier’s Slade Aquatic Center, and La Verne’s Aquatic Center over the course of the two-day invitational.
On Friday, the first day of the tournament, P-P battled hard against two nationally ranked opponents but fell to both squads. The Hens’ first loss of the tournament came to No. 8 Loyola Marymount University by a score of 12-7. In their second game of the day the Hens put up a strong fight against No. 20 Johns Hopkins University. They could not recover, however, from a 3-0 Blue Jays run in the fourth quarter. The game ended with a close scoreline of 12-11, but the Sagehens were on the losing end of that margin.
After a disappointing first day of the invitational, the Hens looked to turn it around on Saturday. P-P first faced off against Fresno Pacific, the only non-nationally ranked team they played in the tournament. After a back-and-forth first half, the Hens found themselves in a 5-5 tie with the Sunbirds. Jarrod Gaut PZ ’14 scored a late third-quarter goal, followed by another from Nic Lanker PO ’17 to put the Sagehens ahead at the end of three quarters. Stephen Vint PZ ’15 and Tommy Turner PO ’17 each scored early in the fourth quarter to give the Hens a 9-5 lead. The Sunbirds were unable to recover, and P-P took the victory with a final score of 11-6.
Head Coach Alex Rodriguez said that the victory against Fresno Pacific was a big win psychologically for the Hens.
“It was definitely good for the team’s morale to get a win over Fresno Pacific. The players were a little distraught after the Johns Hopkins game, and getting this win was a positive thing for our team moving forward into the season,” Rodriguez said.
Caleb Prater-Fahey PO ’17 played the entire game in goal, racking up nine saves. Vint led the Sagehen offense with three goals in the game, while Ryan Higgins PO ’14 and Lanker scored two goals apiece.
In the second game of the day, the Hens took on a tough Division I opponent, the No. 7 Long Beach State 49ers. Long Beach came out strong and jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the first quarter. The Sagehens fought back in the second half, but only brought the score to 9-4. However, after a 6-0 run in the third quarter, the 49ers pulled away and the Hens were unable to keep up. The game ended in a 19-6 Long Beach victory. Again Vint finished with the team high in goals, putting two balls into the back of the net. Phillip Clayman PO ’16, Timmy Hardman PZ ’17, James Baker PO ’17, and Lanker each scored a goal in the match.
This weekend the Sagehens will participate in the Southern California Tournament, another large invitational with multiple teams coming to compete. The Hens are guaranteed to play another four games over the weekend, finishing off their tough non-conference schedule before beginning SCIAC play next Wednesday. In its first game, P-P will take on No. 1 University of California, Los Angeles for the second time this season on Saturday at 8 a.m. Depending on the results of other games, the Hens will either play Pepperdine University or University of California, Irvine in their next game.
“We’ve had some injury issues, but we are hoping everyone can play next weekend. The SoCal Tournament is the strongest tournament in collegiate water polo so we’re looking forward to the opportunity,” Coach Rodriguez said when asked about next weekend’s tournament. He continued, “We have three good chances to get a win, so hopefully, with our depth and improvements, we can get what would be our team’s first win ever in the SoCal Tournament.”