Sagehens Knock Off No. 19 Santa Clara For Fifth Place At WWPA Championships

Sagehens Knock Off No. 19 Santa Clara For Fifth Place At WWPA Championships

Whittier, Calif. - Senior Cody Moore (San Dimas, Calif. - pictured, photo by Becky Gaut) broke an 11-11 tie with a 10-meter shot with 27 seconds left in regulation as the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team concluded its 2012 season with a 12-11 win over No. 19 Santa Clara in the fifth place game of the WWPA Championships at Whittier College.

The win ends Pomona-Pitzer's season with an even 16-16 record, as the Sagehens came all the way back to .500 after an 0-11 start with 11 losses against nationally-ranked teams. Pomona-Pitzer also had three strong showings at the WWPA Championships, narrowly losing 13-11 to No. 11 Loyola Marymount, defeating SCIAC rival CMS in overtime 9-8, and then edging Santa Clara 12-11.

The Sagehens had to withstand a late rally from the Broncos, who scored three straight goals to turn an 11-8 fourth-quarter deficit into an 11-11 tie with 1:41 to go in regulation on a goal from Theo Nasser. Sophomore Stephen Vint (El Cajon, Calif.) had given Pomona-Pitzer a three-goal lead with his fourth goal of the game with 4:48 to go, but Santa Clara converted on two 6-on-5 chances to pull back even.

After the score was tied, the Sagehens missed inches wide of the left post to try to take the lead. The Broncos then took a shot clock violation as Pomona-Pitzer's defense held tough, and the Sagehens called a timeout with 49 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down, Moore rose up from 10 yards out and beat Santa Clara goalie Matt Pritchett with the go-ahead goal.

Santa Clara called one final timeout to try to set up a tying goal, but the defense forced the Broncos to pass the ball around the perimeter, and the Sagehens reached in for a steal with five seconds left to kill the clock and secure the win.

Pomona-Pitzer led 4-3 after the first quarter, and took a 7-4 lead into halftime, as senior Mark Hudnall (Los Altos, Calif.) scored all three goals for the Sagehens in the second quarter. Sophomore Clayton Hardman (Old Greenwich, Conn.) scored the first goal of the second half to make the score 8-4, and Vint answered a Santa Clara goal to match the largest lead of the game for Pomona-Pitzer at 9-5.

The Broncos closed within 9-7, but junior Ryan Higgins (Orinda, Calif.) scored his second of the game with three seconds left in the third quarter to push the lead to three heading into the final stanza.

Sophomore goalie Austin Strong (Honolulu, Hawaii) had 10 saves for the Sagehens, while Santa Clara's two goalies combined for nine. Hudnall led Pomona-Pitzer with three goals, while Higgins and Vint each had two.