The men’s water polo team concluded its California Convergence Tournament last weekend with an 8-6 win over Gannon, finishing a long weekend in which it played five games in three days.
The Leopards outlasted the Golden Knights from Pennsylvania, behind a solid performance from sophomore goalie Alan Nevarez, who notched double digit saves.
“We jumped out to an early lead,” Nevarez said. “We were pretty tired after playing five games in three days, but I knew we were a better team than them.”
La Verne struck early with a first quarter goal by sophomore utility player Emerson Gant.
Two minutes later the Leopards were able to take advantage of a man-up opportunity when senior utility player Sean Steele put one in the back of the net. Steele would add another goal late in the first quarter to push La Verne’s lead to 3-0.
Gannon finally scratched when Michael Piper scored on a second chance goal to end the first quarter with ULV ahead, 3-1.
Both team’s offense continued the scoring trend into the second quarter. Gannon won the opening sprint that led to a Stephen Espinet goal which cut the lead to 3-2.
The momentum did not last long, La Verne was able to capitalize on a Gannon ejection with a Gant goal. His second of the game.
One more goal was added by each team to conclude the half with a 5-3 La Verne lead.
The Golden Knights exploded on offense in the third quarter, adding two more goals and tying up the game 5-5.
“Ultimately we played a pretty good half, third quarter came and we got a little tired,” said head coach Alex La.
The Golden Knights’ momentum continued into the fourth quarter when they took the lead from the Leopards for the first time.
However, the Leopards were able to rally and score three unanswered goals by senior Jonathan Wallace, freshman Arturo Villalpando and senior Errol Stump, for a final score of 8-6.
“In the fourth quarter we caught the goalie sneaking out of the cage a lot and were able to put the ball in the net,” La said.
“It was the fifth game of the weekend so we started off kind of sluggish, ” Gant said. “But we were able to come in with a fresh attitude and it helped us a lot.”
La Verne will continue conference play Oct. 17 against Redlands.
“We are a couple steps away from competing for a championship, but it is up to these guys,” La said.
“We have a couple weeks to practice hard and fix all those little mistakes we were making today,” he added.
Kevin Garrity can be reached at email@example.com.