Sarah Van Buskirk
After an exhausting third quarter, the men’s water polo team surrendered to the George Washington Revolutionaries, 15-8, on Saturday morning during the ULV Mini Tournament at the La Verne Aquatic Center.
The Leopards have held their own against recent Division I competitors over the past few weeks. Later Saturday night, they took on the Concordia Golden Eagles, controlling the first and third quarter but ultimately falling short, 18-17.
“We went into the (George Washington) game with three objectives, where we wanted to be smart with our possessions and for the most of the time I think we were,” head coach Pat Beemer said. “We didn’t want to allow a natural goal out of 2-meters which we were almost good on and we wanted to finish at the post.”
Beemer said, from week to week, this game had a lot of growth comparatively. He said he was obviously not happy with the loss but thought the team did well for what it was.
In the first quarter versus the Revolutionaries, the Leopards won the initial sprint and gathered momentum rapidly.
The Revolutionaries tallied a point first but freshman attacker Jordan Baker evened the score not long after.
Baker continues to exceed the expectations of his freshman season and finished the game with nine shots, three goals and an assist.
“I think we were a lot more patient in these games than in the past,” Baker said. “I think we were able to use more of the clock and look for the better shot instead of just ripping one off.”
The first quarter concluded with another two goals by George Washington, but the second quarter proceeded with the same intensity.
Another initial sprint won by the Leopards proved their eagerness to compete. A crucial save from junior goalkeeper Eric Bates transitioned into Baker trimming the Revolutionaries’ lead with an assist by senior center Peter Trinh.
George Washington converted another goal but Trinh retaliated and put the ball in the back of the net to make the score 4-3. Following, the Revolutionaries took a time out to reset then, coming off the regroup, scored.
With less than two minutes left in the quarter, sophomore utility player Jaden Javier put the Leopards back into a one point deficit, 5-4.
Javier said he wants to focus his help more offensively this season as he felt like he has only aided the defense in the past. Javier ended the match with three shots, two goals and an assist.
“There were some defensive mistakes we could have fixed and we let them go on a little run,” Javier said. “But overall the energy was a lot better and as a team we played more collectively today.”
Eight seconds before halftime, the Revolutionaries got the final word and proceeded to the locker rooms leading, 6-4.
The Leopards lost balance in the third quarter as the Revolutionaries secured five more goals but Trinh saved La Verne from a swept quarter. Trinh finished the game with seven shots, three goals and an assist.
“When we watch back on our film we will be able to tell whether it was a good shot or bad,” Trinh said. “But I think every shot we took in this game was a pretty high percentage. We just have to put it in the back of the net.”
In the final quarter, the Leopards got a second wind and pushed to close George Washington’s lead.
The Revolutionaries scored early in the quarter but Baker deposited one into the net off the assist from junior defender Sawyer Nering to reciprocate.
After another three goals by George Washington, the Leopards drew an exclusion and on the powerplay Javier found the cage with the help from Baker setting up the shot.
The final seconds winded down and Trinh put one more past the goalie with the assist from Jaiver. The final score was 15-8.
The Leopards open up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday against the No. 1 Redlands Bulldogs at 11 a.m. at the La Verne Aquatic Center in Las Flores Park.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at email@example.com.