Balikian Leads Men’s Water Polo

Continuing its long march of pre-season games before SCIAC competition begins, the Men’s Water Polo team hosted Fresno Pacific and Iona this past Saturday, Sep. 26.All day Saturday, Haldeman pool was Ryan Balikian PO ’11’s world, and we were simply living it. Balikian scored 11 goals in the two wins combined and led the Sagehens to victories of 10-8 and 17-9 over Fresno Pacific and Iona, respectively.“My shot was really on point,” he said. “Also, the goalies were not very good.”Balikian’s five goals in the first game and six in the second justified his leadership role as a 2008 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) 1st team all-American. “It was nice to play some D3 caliber teams,” commented Balikian in reference to the tough early-season schedule, which featured games against teams such as USC and UC Davis. Hopefully, as more D-III teams roll in, the victories will continue to pile up.Luckily for fans of the team, Balikian seems to be getting closer to a repeat of his award-winning 2008 season, especially if he continues to put on the type of performance he did Saturday. He credited his success to Coach Alex Rodriguez’s tough conditioning program and cheerfully proclaimed, “I live by nobody’s rules but my own and my coach’s.”As usual, Rodriguez was not particularly enthusiastic about the team’s performance but was happy to get the wins. “At least we didn’t suck so bad that I had to leave, like [with some other teams I watched] today,” he said.Ben Hadley PO ’11 had a more optimistic viewpoint: “We came, we saw, we conquered.”Hadley, another powerful forward, also had an impressive day on the front line, despite a slight disagreement with Coach Rodriguez after an ejection for illegal defense in the second half of the Iona contest. After the game, the air cleared and the coach and player joked about their fight.“Coach was 100 percent correct and I had no reason to question him,” Hadley said. “I was wrong and always am.”The only other lowlight of the day came in the first game against Fresno Pacific courtesy of sophomore goalkeeper Kyle “Prospie” Pokorny PO ’12. With the ball loose in his end, Pokorny scrambled to recover it but was charged with an ejection. The Sagehens were forced to protect their goal without the aid of the NCAA saves leader. Luckily, defensive stalwart Mike Gormally PO ’11 stole the ball back, and Fresno-Pacific was held scoreless on the play.In the case of an ejection, the player must completely leave the field of play before coming back in, if his team gets possession of the ball. Unaccustomed to being ejected, and excited by his teammate’s play, Pokorny came back in too soon, risking a five meter penalty shot that would have tied up the game.“That’s why we still call him Prospie,” said Dan Kadvany PO ’10 after the game.A flustered Pokorny was unable to come up with an adequate reason for his action in the post-game press conference and dodged the question. “I would really like to continue talking about this conversation later,” he said.Kadvany contributed to a highlight reel goal in the second half of the match with Iona. With a two-on-one advantage with fellow senior Robbie Hayes PO ’10, Kadvany walked the ball in toward the cage from the right. He noticed Hayes break away from his man on the opposite side and threw a beautiful no-look pace to Hayes for the one-timer.“It was like Tim O’Brien’s portrayal of the veterans in The Things They Carried,” said fan Jose Acevedo PO ’10.After collecting two wins last weekend, the team has set its sights on the Claremont Convergence Tournament, hosted this weekend by Pomona-Pitzer and CMS. Today, the Sagehens will lead off against Fordham, and follow up against Harvard. Fan Pete Hadley SS ’YY is looking forward to the contest with the Crimson.“[Harvard and the Sagehens will] probably be asking each other questions like ‘what’s the hypotenuse of a right triangle that contains a 47 degree angle’ or ‘what is your take on Aristotle’s ethical theories?’” Hadley explained. The two sets of smart and savvy polo players in the pool at the same time has made the game the place to be late Friday afternoon.

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