The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team’s 2013 campaign came to an end the weekend before Thanksgiving at the 2013 SCIAC Championship Tournament, held Nov. 22 to Nov. 24 hosted by Chapman University. After an overtime victory over Chapman in the first round, the Sagehens lost 16-10 in the semifinals to top-seed Whittier College. The season came to a close for the Sagehens when they lost to Redlands University in the third-place game by a score of 10-6. With the loss to Redlands in the match for third place, P-P ended the season with a 6-5 record in SCIAC play and a 10-23 record overall.
In their first game of the SCIAC Championships, the Sagehens played Chapman for the second time this season. In their regular-season match, the Hens defeated Chapman 14-13 in overtime, and these two teams had another exciting finish in their second match-up. This time, P-P beat the Panthers 11-10 in sudden death overtime. After both the fourth quarter and the first overtime ended in ties, Chapman took a commanding two-goal lead with less than two minutes to play in the second overtime period. Phillip Clayman PO ’16 scored a goal to bring the Sagehens within one, and with only 0.2 seconds left on the clock, Jarrod Gaut PZ ’14 scored a buzzer-beater to send the game into sudden-death overtime. In the “golden goal” overtime, Ryan Higgins PO ’14 scored his third goal of the game to win the game for the Sagehens. The win put the Sagehens in the semifinals, where they faced off against the No. 1 Whittier Poets.
“The win over Chapman was a huge win for us,” captain Robert Chew PO ’14 said. “We were up and down all game against them and at the end it didn’t look good for us. I wish I could say we all saw it coming, but the huge series of goals by Ryan Higgins and Jarrod Gaut to pull it out in sudden death was big.”
In P-P’s second game of the championships, Whittier jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Clayman scored three goals for the Sagehens, with Higgins and Gaut each adding two apiece, but this was not enough to overcome the relentless offense of the Poets. The game ended in a score of 16-10, ending P-P’s hopes of a SCIAC Championship title.
After the loss in the semifinals, the Sagehens played Redlands for the third time of the season, having lost both previous matches to the Bulldogs. As time expired in the first half, Gaut scored another goal at the buzzer, tying the game 4-4. However, Redlands came out strong in the second half, scoring three straight goals to regain the lead, and the Sagehens were unable to recover. Dylan O’Connell PO ’14, Higgins, and Gaut each had goals in their final collegiate match, with goalie Tyler Hill PO ’14 racking up 15 saves. The game ended in a score of 10-6 as the Sagehens took home fourth place in the SCIAC Championships.
“I don’t think anyone was satisfied with a fourth place finish, especially when the NCAA play-in game was on the table for the tournament winner,” Chew said. “That being said, I think it is important to always realize that no matter what has been achieved in past seasons, each season has to be taken on its own.”
Although the season ended in a disappointing way for P-P, there were many positive and memorable moments for the Sagehens. Senior captain Gaut ended the season with 48 goals scored, second on the team. Hill led the team in saves with 140. The squad had a few extremely exciting games, including an upset win over No. 14 Santa Clara University by a score of 10-5 in early November, their two overtime wins over Chapman, and a big 16-9 victory over California Institute of Technology on Senior Day.
With these memorable moments came some surprises for the Sagehens that make the future of P-P men’s water polo look bright. James Baker PO ’17 led the team with 51 goals, and Ethan Prater-Fahey PO ’17 stepped up in goal when needed, racking up 133 saves on the season. Stephen Vint PZ ’15 was third in scoring with 46 goals and will be a force next season for the Sagehens.
When asked about his thoughts about the season a whole, Chew said, “As a senior, this last season had a huge significance for me. We had some extreme highs and lows, but altogether it was a great season. I am extremely excited to see what this talented, young team can do as it grows in the next few years.”