Friends over Food, Rivals in the Pool

Both Pomona-Pitzer and CMS men’s water polo teams have had great seasons, finishing SCIAC play tied with 6-1 records. When the two teams met in the regular season, CMS pulled through with a 10-8 win in a hard-fought battle that lasted all 60 minutes. Now both teams are entering the SCIAC tournament hoping to come out on top. I had the chance to talk to CMS captain Brian Chong CM ’12 and P-P captain Kyle Pokorny PO ’12 about their teams’ postseason goals and the cross-campus rivalry.

The Stags and Sagehens both finished the regular season at the top of SCIAC, meaning they will get the highest seeds going into the SCIAC tournament. When asked about the rivalry between their teams, both Chong and Pokorny agreed that their seeding didn’t matter, but that it was more about being on the same campus.

“It’s a pretty big rivalry,” Chong explained. “I transferred here and didn’t understand it that well at first, but every year it grows on me more and more. We usually have the biggest crowds when we play [P-P].”

Pokorny agreed, explaining that the game often gets rather physical when the two teams meet up. But despite the competitive attitude of both teams, the out-of-water relationships between the players are friendly.

“Both our teams generally have practice until after 7,” Pokorny said. “Since Frary is the only dining hall open late, we will often see each other there. We say ‘hi’ and ask how each others’ games went.”

Chong, who has played club water polo with several P-P players in the past, agreed.

“I wouldn’t say there are any hostilities between [our teams], but whenever two teams play against each other it will always be competitive. Once the game starts we put our friendships away and compete.”

Both teams are ready to compete this weekend, and they share the common goal of winning SCIAC. In fact, both Chong and Pokorny said they would like to play each other in the finals. And the likelihood of that is very high.

Last year, the SCIAC tournament didn’t end well for the Sagehens; they didn’t make the championship game, which CMS went on to win. While CMS is looking to win the title again, P-P has a lot of motivation to stop them.

“We are definitely fueled by the disappointment of last year and our matchup [with CMS] earlier this year,” Pokorny said. “We are optimistic [going into the tournament]. We’ve been playing really well recently, and we’ve hit our stride.”

If CMS and P-P do wind up playing each other, Chong and Pokorny will likely find themselves in several one-on-one situations with each other, Chong being a leading scorer for CMS and Pokorny being P-P’s goalie. Fortunately, both players are excited for this opportunity.

“Kyle is one of the better goalies in SCIAC,” Chong explained. “I have a lot of respect for him; he is one of the biggest reasons they’re good this year.”

Pokorny also acknowledged Chong’s impact on the CMS team. “I’m absolutely excited to play [Chong]. He kind of carries the team and is one of the better players in SCIAC.”

Regardless of what happens in the SCIAC tournament, both teams will go on to compete in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) tournament to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Chong and Pokorny both said their teams are hoping to place in the top four in WWPAs, which would be impressive for small schools like the 5Cs.

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