Men's Water Polo: Sagehens Hand Poets First SCIAC Loss

Men's Water Polo: Sagehens Hand Poets First SCIAC Loss

CLAREMONT, CA. – The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team triumphed over the Whittier Poets at Haldeman Pool in their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference matchup on Saturday afternoon, defeating them 10-9. It was the Poets' first loss in conference play this season.

Season Impact: The victory gives the Sagehens a 16-9 record overall and 7-1 in conference play. The Poets are now 12-10 overall and hold an 8-1 record in the SCIAC.

Sophomore Jacob Niskey led the Hens with three goals and three steals while freshman Adam Gross handed out a whopping five assists. Joseph Schafer added two goals and Daniel Diemer collected 14 saves. Hans Zdolsek carried most of the scoring load for the Poets, finding the net four times, while Murat Ersoz made 11 saves and two steals at goal.

The Sagehens got off to a hot start in the first period, scoring three straight goals to take the early lead. After goals by Niskey and Gross, Noah Sasaki took advantage of a power play with 4:09 left in the period and capped the rally with a long-distance shot. The Hens did a solid job on the defensive end, denying the Poets from finding clear passing lanes and holding off their counterattack off outlet passes. After the Poets got their first goal off a penalty with 2:03 left, Niskey responded a minute later with a close distance shot to extend the lead 4-1. Immediately after the goal, Cade Curry aggressively pressured the Poets' ball carrier at the whistled and forced a turnover. He passed the ball to the trailing Keegan Coleman on the fast break who converted his shot to close the period with a 5-1 lead.

19 seconds into the second period, the Sagehens added to their lead, courtesy of Curry. After Zdolsek took one back for the Poets, Gross found Schafer with cross-pool pass and Schafer ripped a one-skip shot past Ersoz with 4:12 remaining in the half to extend the Hens' lead 7-2. Schafer scored again on a power play with 45 seconds left as the Hens closed the half 8-3.

After Niskey scored early in the third period, the Poets tightened up on the defensive end in the third period, preventing the Hens from finding open looks near the post. However, the Sagehens maintained their poise on defense as well, holding the Poets to only one goal during the period. The Hens led 9-4 heading into the fourth.

The Poets found life on offense in the final period, playing with desperation to maintain their undefeated record. Zdolsek sparked a 3-0 lead as the Poets furiously came back to close the gap 9-7. With 6:35 remaining, Adam Ward took a pass from Gross near the middle of the net. Ward bullied his defender away and found space to hurl a shot into the net, keeping the Hens ahead 10-6. Whittier College tried to spark another comeback, rallying with a 3-0 run, but they were short on time as the Hens' defense held on for the victory.

Up Next: The Sagehens will cross Sixth Street to take on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Axelrood Pool next Saturday, October 28 at 11 a.m.