Throughout his ten seasons as head water polo coach for
Pomona-Pitzer, there are few things Alex Rodriguez hasn’t seen. At the Kap7 NorCal Tournament on Sept. 20, however, Rodriguez was able to witness his
team upset No. 12 Loyola Marymount University for the first time in his tenure, a
tremendous feat for the P-P men’s water polo team (1-9, 0-0 SCIAC).
At the well-known NorCal water polo tournament hosted by the University of the Pacific, the team dropped two matches to No. 2 University of California, Los Angeles, and No. 11 University of California, Davis, on Sept. 20. The Sagehens then rebounded and upset No. 12 LMU by a score of 9-8 in sudden-death overtime before dropping their final match against No. 14
Santa Clara University.
Despite scoring five goals against No. 1 Stanford University in their last tournament, the Hens were shut out against No. 2 UCLA when the Bruins were able to net 24 goals across the 32 minutes of play.
“Obviously being shut
out by UCLA was a low point for our team since in the past when we have
played top-ranked teams we have usually been able to put something away in the
goal,” Phillip Clayman PO ’16 said. “However, bouncing back after a
loss like that isn’t as difficult as it seems because we don’t expect to win; we view it more like a practice, a chance to get better playing against
possible future Olympians. We just stayed confident.”
Following their loss to UCLA, the Hens had a quick
turnaround to face No. 11 UC Davis. Despite coming in confident after their previous loss, the Hens were shut out in the first
quarter and unable to find their offensive spark.
In the second quarter, Stephen
Vint PZ ’15 found the back of net to up the score 4-1. Travis Larsen PO ’15 contributed another goal, while Nic Lanker PO ’17 scored in the back of the net early in
the second half, cutting the UC Davis lead to 5-3.
Tommy Turner PO ’17 and Phillip
Clayman PO ’16 also added goals. Though the Hens held on strong during the whole game,
they dropped the match 11-6.
“Our match against Davis wasn’t a very strong showing
of our skills and team play that we had been developing in practice, so to keep
the game as close as it was, we knew we could come back strong the next
day,” Devon Kennedy PZ ’16 said.
The Sagehens came fresh out of the gate on Sept. 21 with a game against LMU. With the help of Vint, three quick goals put
the team up 3-1. Later, LMU knotted the game at 6-6, but goalkeeper Ethan Prater-Fahey PO ’17 provided crucial saves, ensuring that LMU didn’t pull ahead. At the end of regulation, the game remained tied.
After Timmy Hardman PZ ’17 scored in the first overtime, LMU
answered quickly, sending the match into sudden death. Vint was awarded a
five-meter penalty shot on the first possession of sudden death and found the back
of the net for the win.
Although P-P had a strong offensive showing, the members of
the team noted that it was the Hens’ defensive prowess and smart play that
carried them to victory.
“The team played strong
team defense against LMU, preventing LMU’s counterattack and helping guard
their better players,” Clayman said. “We also controlled the ball on
offense, slowing down the game, allowing us to get the ball to
the right person and avoiding unnecessary turnovers.”
The Hens’ final game of the tournament came against No. 14 Santa Clara. Despite working to carry over the momentum from their upset win, Santa Clara ultimately took the win with a score of 12-3.
The team has the weekend of Sept. 27-28 off, a rare opportunity for the players to
rest after many weeks of facing the top competition in the nation.
Following the off-weekend, the Sagehens will host the Gary Troyer Memorial Tournament on Oct. 3 and 4 and take on Iona College, Harvard University, Fresno Pacific University and Gannon University at the Haldeman Pool.