The No. 19 ranked Pomona-Pitzer men’s water polo team (24-11, 13-1 SCIAC) concluded its season Saturday with a 16-2 loss to No. 5 University of the Pacific (20-5, 5-0 Conf.).
After starting their post-season with two wins, which resulted in a SCIAC championship title, the Sagehens headed to Stockton to play the DI Pacific Tigers in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“A lot of people on the team felt like it was a weird matchup because they’re a really strongly ranked team,” said Adam Ward PO ’19, explaining that NCAA had chosen to send P-P to Pacific rather than to UC Davis (22-6, 7-0 conf.) despite the small difference in mileage. “[Davis] would have been a much more competitive game.”
Although the Sagehens played hard, the Tigers were determined to shut them down, scoring a goal within the first fifteen seconds and closing the first quarter 3-0. While P-P scored one goal to Pacific’s two in the second quarter to make the score 5-1 going into half, it proved insufficient as the Tigers outscored the Sagehens 6-1 in the third quarter, and 5-0 in the fourth.
Though Ward felt the Sagehens played well, especially in the first half, he said the results were “disappointing.”
Even so, the season was a success for the Sagehens, whose win in the finals against Whittier made them back-to-back SCIAC champions and whose victories during the season far outweighed their losses. Ward recalled an October tournament when the team traveled to Boston to take on the Ivy League: “We beat a lot of teams over there – Harvard, MIT, Hopkins,” he said.
Back in California, they proceeded to dominate the conference, going almost undefeated, and losing only one out of 14 matches in SCIAC play.
Ward hopes the team can repeat the strong performance next year, though it will miss its two graduating seniors.
“It’s going to be hard losing the two people that we are [losing],” he acknowledged. “One’s our goalie Dan [Diemer PZ ’18] – SCIAC Player of the Year, First Team All-SCIAC, and a huge voice on the team.” The other is Mark Hallman PO ’18, who “does a really good job keeping people happy during season.”
“And he’s really fast,” Ward added after a second, joking, “I’ll have to swim a few more laps, see if I can do something about that.”
Though the season had a few disappointments, namely the early loss to Whittier which was P-P’s sole conference defeat, the Sagehens made up for it. “To come back, finish the season off right, win SCIAC, have such a good season – there’s no real complaints in the end,” Ward said.