Leopards win high-scoring battle against Sagehens

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

The men’s water polo team defeated the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens 10-9 in Game two of the Inland Empire Tournament Saturday at the La Verne Aquatic Center.

With two seconds left in the game, junior defender Phillip Clayman of Pomona-Pitzer attempted to shoot a final goal to tie the game, hoping to go into overtime, but the ball was saved by junior goalkeeper Christian Ortiz.

“I’m happy that we won today,” head coach William Rodriguez said. “But there are still key parts that need work.”

It was a slow start for La Verne but with 4:07 left in the first quarter, freshman defender Josh Vega managed to get a goal past Pomona-Pitzer’s sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Prater-Fahey to give the Leopards a 1-0 lead.

“It was a great game that showed we’re up to their level,” junior driver Bryan Jimenez said. “It gave us the opportunity to make a statement and felt we did just that.”

Twenty-four seconds into the second quarter, junior defender Viken Huening scored a goal with the assist of senior driver Jonathon Jarvis, making it 2-0 La Verne.

Jimenez followed with another goal with 5:19 left on the clock for a 3-0 lead.

The Sagehens managed to get a goal in with 1:43 left in the second quarter by Clayman assisted by junior attacker Devon Kennedy, making the score 3-1.

With goals by Huening, Vega and Jarvis, the Leopards took an 8-5 lead over Pomona-Pitzer at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter heated up as the Sagehens were catching up due to turnovers made by La Verne.

“Our counter defense needs work. We’re struggling out there,” Huening said. “Half court offense needs work and our turnovers are things to look at going into our next games this season.”

A goal by sophomore attacker James Baker of Pomona-Pitzer, reduced the score deficit to just one, 9-8 with La Verne still in the lead.

But the Leopards managed to kick their defense into gear, securing the 10-9 win.

“Defeating them today was unlike any other game I’ve played here,” Huening said. “Day two, going 2-0 is huge because we haven’t beaten them in years and it’s incredible.”

In game one of the tournament, La Verne defeated the Claremont-Mudd-Scrips Stags 13-10.

“It felt good to beat CMS and the guys out there were very confident,” Rodriguez said. “They gave it their all and working hard and the results showed that.”

The Leopards entered day two of the tournament 2-0, facing UCLA and Whittier.

“UCLA is in the top three and Whittier is in the top of the conference and they are a huge competition,” Huening said. “It will be a tough game but if we beat Whittier it shows that we are able to be at the top this season.”

The Leopards lost to UCLA, 24-1, and Whittier, 16-14.

“I look forward to building from not only today but the next few games and just moving forward and doing well,” Jimenez said. “When conference starts, I know we’ll be ready and prepared for it.”

The Leopards are now 2-6 overall.

“We need to focus on water polo excellence, not excellent water polo,” Rodriguez said.

The men’s water polo team will participate in the Lancer Invitational at noon Friday against the Lancers at Cal Baptist.

Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu.

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