Traveling to the annual SoCal Tournament to take on some of nation's best talent, the Pomona-Pitzer men's water polo team (7-10) had mixed success against four elite California teams. On Saturday, Oct. 10, the Sagehens faced the top team in the nation, the University of Caifornia, Los Angeles, and No. 9 Pepperdine University at their home pool. The Hens were soundly defeated by both Division I programs.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, the Hens took on Loyola Marymount University for the third time this season, as well as No. 14 San Jose State University, and fared much better against this tough competition. Despite a close loss to LMU, P-P fought hard against San Jose State and came away with a major upset.
The first day of the tournament was a chance for the Sagehens to go head-to-head against the best water polo talent in the country. First up for the Hens was UCLA, the current No. 1 team in the nation. The Bruins quickly put pressure on P-P's defense and swung the game wide open with early goals. By the end of the match, UCLA was able to put 22 goals in the cage. For the Sagehens, three players were able to score against one of the nation's top defenses, as attacker James Baker PO '17 scored three goals, utility player Adam Ward PO '19 scored a pair, and defender Phillip Clayman PO '16 added one goal.
In the second game on Saturday, the Sagehens went up against Pepperdine in the Waves' home pool. The Hens stayed in the game early, only allowing Pepperdine a one-goal advantage through the first quarter. However, Pepperdine put seven goals into the back of the net in the second quarter and overpowered P-P for the remainder of the game, eventually winning 15-7. Baker led the Sagehens with his second hat trick of the day, while utility player Timmy Hardman PZ '17, Ward and Clayman also had goals.
“It's always good to get experience playing the top teams in the nation,” Clayman said. “We put up some nice offense against both teams on Saturday and obviously learned a lot from such talented teams.”
The following day, the Hens traveled to LMU looking to reverse their momentum. Going into their third game against LMU with one win and one loss against the Lions already this season, the match served as a season tiebreaker for the series. The Hens kept steady with LMU for the first 24 minutes of the game. P-P finally caught a break at the end of the third quarter, as utility player Max Ries PZ '19 scored from outside to tie the game 6-6 going into the fourth quarter. However, the Sagehens soon lost steam in the final minutes of play and were outscored 5-2 in the last quarter as LMU took the game 11-8.
The final game of the weekend was the most exciting for P-P. As the game against San Jose State see-sawed back and forth, the Hens found themselves down one goal with four minutes to play in the match. Hardman was able to tie the game 7-7 with two minutes to play, and the Hens recaptured possession soon after. After drawing an ejection, P-P took a timeout to set up their offense and Neil Forsythe PO '16 scored in the six-on-five situation to give the Hens the game-winning goal and the 8-7 upset victory.
“I was really proud of how the team stepped up on Sunday and bounced back,” attacker Matt Alexander PO '17 said. “We played well against both LMU and San Jose State, although we definitely think we could have beaten LMU.”
The Hens have their first official SCIAC match of the season this coming weekend, as they travel to Occidental College (2-10) on Saturday, Oct. 17, to take on the Tigers at 11 a.m. The Sagehens dominated the Tigers 17-5 in their last matchup in 2014, and will look for another dominant performance to start off league play.