The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team split a quartet of matches at Haldeman Pool this past Saturday and Wednesday, handily defeating SCIAC competitors Whittier and La Verne 13-4 and 17-8, respectively, while falling to national top-20 teams UCLA and Concordia (Cal.) 14-4 and 15-9, respectively. With their wins and losses, the Sagehens move to 7-16 overall and 3-1 in league play.
The Sagehens faced off against 13th-ranked Concordia for the second time this season on Wednesday night in a match that set the Hens’ dedicated, disciplined game plan against the “street ball” styling of the Eagles, as dubbed by assistant coach Jim Armstrong. Captain and goalkeeper Kyle Pokorny PO ’12 said that although the Hens were able to initially “neutralize the size and strength” of the physically superior Eagles, they were unable to pull through for a victory.
The P-P team came roaring out of the gate, with Stephen Vint PZ ’15, who led the Sagehen scorers in the game with four goals, and captain Cody Moore PO ’13, who scored two quick goals to give the Hens the lead. But the Eagles quickly stormed back, scoring four successive goals to end the quarter ahead 4-2.
Attempting to create strong offensive possessions so the Eagles “couldn’t just get a nice steal and burn us on the way down,” as Pokorny commented, the team began to slip during the second and third quarters, due in part to fatigue from the earlier La Verne game. Ryan Higgins PO ’14 scored two goals early in the third to bring the score to what seemed to be a close 8-6, but Concordia then put in another four consecutive goals to make the score 12-6 with 2:35 left, stifling the Sagehens’ momentum.
Vint, a left-handed player whom Pokorny described as “playing tough, fulfilling his role on the team and then some,” scored the final three Sagehen goals of the game, executing a notable steal and subsequent goal off a Concordia 6-on-5 offensive attempt with 1:32 left in the third to make the score 12-7. Vint’s left-handedness allows him to take much better shots from the right side of the goal than a right-handed player would, a difference that’s “night and day,” according to Pokorny.
Earlier in the day, the Sagehens coasted to a 17-8 win in an important conference game over fellow SCIAC team La Verne. P-P jumped out to an early lead, converting each of their first six possessions in the second quarter into goals, and bringing the score to 10-4 by the half.
“We did a good job finishing the opportunities that we created,” head coach Alex Rodriguez said. “We took advantage of our speed and were able to create a lot of offensive possessions.”
In a Saturday morning match against Whittier, a team that has given the Sagehens unexpected trouble in the past, the Hens put in two goals in the first quarter before Poet junior Cameron Rehm snuck a shot in to make the score 2-1. The game would not remain close for long, though, as the Hens scored nine goals in the second quarter, including three from Mark Hudnall PO ’13 and two from leading scorer Jason Cox PZ ’13, to take a dominating 11-1 lead at the half.
A tight third quarter saw the Poets score one goal while the Sagehens went scoreless. Nothing much would come of the rest of the game as the teams simply traded goals in the fourth quarter, securing a Sagehens victory.
On Saturday afternoon, the Sagehens faced off against the UCLA Bruins in their second game against a national number-one this season. The Hens kept the predictably tough game within distance until the third quarter, when the Bruins broke the whole thing open by scoring six points to the Sagehens’ two. Leading 11-3 at the start of the fourth, the Bruins then added three more goals—with P-P getting a goal from Cody Moore PO ’13—to cap off their victory.
Both players and coaches described the week’s results as decidedly positive, with two confident SCIAC victories and well-played losses against some of the nation’s top-ranked teams. The Sagehens now look toward an important game against fellow SCIAC team Redlands, whose only loss of the season has also been against CMS. The game will be at Haldeman Pool at 7 p.m. next Wednesday.