P-P Men’s Water Polo Experiences First Two Losses in Season

The Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo
team suffered its first two SCIAC losses to Chapman University and Whittier College Saturday, Oct. 25 and Wednesday, Oct. 29. Despite the Sagehens’ effort that kept the game close going into halftime, the Panthers were able to
pull away in the second half to earn an 11-6 victory. At home on
Wednesday, the Hens (5-14, 1-2 SCIAC) started a fierce comeback in the fourth quarter
against Whittier but were unable to catch the Poets, who eventually won 11-9. 

The Panthers began the Saturday match with a goal in the first minute
of the game. Shortly after, Tommy Turner PO ’17 was excluded, and Chapman
capitalized on the six-on-five opportunity, taking a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. The
Hens bounced back quickly, however, as James Baker PO ’17 scored in the final
minute of the quarter. Just 30 seconds later, Bennett Royce PZ ’18
found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

Chapman and
P-P traded goals early in the second quarter, with Mark Hallman PO ’18 scoring
his tenth goal of the season. Right before the half, Chapman called a
timeout after an Austin Strong PZ ’15 ejection to set up a six-on-five opportunity, but the Hens’ defense stayed strong and kept the deficit at one
goal going into halftime.

“In
the first half, I think we did a good job distributing the ball,” Hallman
said. “Our defense also was really strong in the first couple of quarters,
and Ethan [Prater-Fahey PO ’17] made some great saves to keep us in the
game.”

Trailing by
one going into the third quarter, the Hens were not able to put more pressure
on the Panthers as the third quarter proved to be all Chapman. The Panthers drew three
ejections in the third and scored four unanswered goals to increase their lead to 8-3.

The Hens got back on the board in
the fourth quarter, but by then the deficit was too large to overcome. Travis
Larsen PO ’15, Kyle Van der Linde PO ’15 and Timmy Hardman PZ ’17 all scored
in the fourth, but the Panthers answered by adding three goals of their own to keep the lead. The
final whistle blew with the Panthers taking the match 11-6.

“Even though we started the
game off strong, we ultimately beat ourselves by not performing how well we do
in practice,” Devon Kennedy PZ ’16 said. “We need to get better at
using what we practice in big game situations.”

On Wednesday night, the Hens faced off against Whittier, the defending SCIAC champion, at Haldeman Pool. Whittier took a
quick lead in the game and had a 10-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. As the final quarter began, however, the Hens quickly increased their offensive play.
Neil Forsythe PO ’16,  Hardman and Baker all scored to make the
match a one-goal game. Forsythe had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth
quarter, but it was denied inside the five-meter range by the Whittier goalkeeper, allowing the Poets to hold on for the win.

The team was without two of its starters and top scorers, Phillip Clayman PO ’16 and Stephen Vint PZ ’15, due to injury for the match against Chapman. Without the two offensive powers, the Sagehens struggled to find a rhythm on offensive. Clayman, who suffered a broken finger during last week’s game against Occidental College, also had to sit out against Whittier. However, he has continued practicing with the Hens—while avoiding certain activities—and hopes to be available early next week.

“My finger has been feeling
better, and I’ve been doing everything I can to get cleared to play
again,” Clayman said. “No one likes to have to watch from the
sidelines.”

Next up for P-P is the University of Redlands, who comes to Haldeman Pool on Saturday, Nov. 1, to take on the Sagehens. Redlands will prove to be a
challenge for the Sagehens as P-P lost both of its regular season matches against the Bulldogs last season. The game will also serve as P-P’s Senior Day to honor the eldest
members of the team in their last regular-season home game.

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