The men’s water polo team fought hard, but could not get over the hump as they lost to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 11-7, Wednesday night.
With the loss, La Verne drops to a 2-3 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record.
“It’s actually been a really big transition [from high school to college]. These guys are a lot bigger, a lot faster,” freshman attacker Myles Storms said.
Their most recent win came at the expense of the Caltech Beavers, outscoring them 17-8, with junior utility player Chucky Ortega scoring a career-high eight goals.
“Caltech was a good game to finally assert ourselves and show that we are a really competitive team,” senior attacker Jason Russum said.
La Verne came out firing on all cylinders, applying heavy pressure, eventually leading to a score from senior attacker and captain Domenic D’Andrea off a penalty.
The Stags were quick to answer, scoring two quick goals in return. The Leopards’ defense stayed strong, senior goal-keeper and captain Ian Hernandez made save after save, preventing CMS from extending their lead.
Despite their strong defensive game plan, the Leopards were unable to convert on offense, ending the half down 4-2.
“We had a lot of six-on-five opportunities that if we put away this game is ours,” Ortega said.
Both teams came out of halftime on fire, with each team taking multiple shots on goal.
Hernandez continued to put up a solid performance and finished the game with 10 saves.
The Leopards were able to keep up in scoring during the third quarter, with two goals from Ortega and one from Storms, but the Leopards still trailed 8-5 to finish the quarter due to their point deficit from the first half.
Both teams continued to trade goals in the fourth quarter and despite several scores from junior defender Rex Sample and Ortega, the game ended 11-7.
“They cause a lot of threats. Our defensive scheme by and large was strong, we had a couple lapses in judgment that lead to some goals but I’m excited to play them twice,” Beamer said.
Despite the loss, many players were optimistic about their showing.
“I thought that was one of the best games we played as a cohesive team and I honestly think that we outplayed them, they had a couple of fortunate goals and I think next time we’ll show them what’s up,” Storms said.
The Leopards look to improve their record next week with important games against Occidental and Chapman.
“We had tough games this year against some really tough teams, they were close,” Russum said. “Even though we didn’t win we still learned from them.”
La Verne will co-host the Gary Troyer Invitational Tournament this weekend, along with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer.
On Friday the Leopards will face Connecticut College at 12:20 p.m. and Iona at 4:20 p.m. In Saturday’s action, they will face Penn State-Behrend at 10:20 a.m. and Navy at 3:40 p.m.
All four of ULV’s matches will take place at the La Verne Aquatic Center at Las Flores Park.
Joey Matsuzawa can be reached at email@example.com.