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LV drowns Caltech in SCIAC opener, falls to Chapman and Redlands

During a timeout in the third quarter Saturday, head coach Alex La lifts his team’s spirit for their game against Chapman at Las Flores Park. La coaches both the men’s and women’s water polo teams, and played for La Verne himself in 2001 and 2002. / photo by Cameron Barr

Christian Orozco
Staff Writer

The men’s water polo team dominated Caltech, but fell short to Chapman on Saturday at Las Flores Park.

A beautiful Saturday morning was the perfect setting for all types of sports at Las Flores Park, including water polo, where the Leopards went 1-1 on the day.

The first game of the day for the Leopards, against Caltech was also the Leopards’ South­ern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.

“It’s always nice to win your conference opener,” coach Alex La said.

La Verne jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead over Caltech forcing the visiting team to take an early timeout.

Senior utility player Kyle Thorsness served as the team’s playmaker.

He was able to feed his teammates the ball and set up scoring opportunities for them.

Thorsness’ favorite target was senior utility player Emerson Gant.

With Caltech having no sense of urgency, La Verne easily went up 10-1.

The Leopards were able to create offense from their great display of defense.

Junior utility player Cooper Durette helped La Verne on defense and created productive offense from his tenacious defense.

“Our plan is to create offensive opportunities into defense through transitions,” La said.

Caltech continued to make sloppy passes and La Verne continued to play with precision.

The Leopards countered off of Caltech’s mistakes with scoring opportunities, and continued to control the game with a 12-1 lead.

La Verne was able to keep up the intensity and went up 16-1, showing no mercy to the visiting team.

La Verne’s defense held up late and were able to use the clock efficiently to come out with the win in their first SCIAC game of the season over the Beavers, 19-3.

“It’s always good to get a conference win,” Thorsness said. “We were in better shape and we had some quick freshmen.”

“The game obviously went well and we had some great communication on defense,” Gant said.

The Leopards’ second game was against Chapman, which will join SCIAC next season.

“They’re going to be in conference next year so we really wanted to make a point,” Thorsness said.

From the opening whistle one could tell the similarities that the two teams shared in their style of play.

At the start of the game both teams stayed close.

Chapman came out of their first timeout with a plan to spread the pool with multiple passes.

Chapman went up 7-3, but La Verne did not quit.

With his teammates playing aggressive on defense, Thorsness was able to score and keep the Leopards in the game.

As much as La Verne tried to claw back into the game it was not enough, falling to Chapman, 14-7.

“They scored off of our mistakes and there was some miscommunication,” La said. “Good teams are going to capitalize off of that.”

“Chapman is tough every year but we will see them again this year and we’ll try to beat them then,” said Thorsness.

The Leopards faced the Redlands Bulldogs Wednesday at home, falling 11-9 in a closely contested match.

Thorsness led the team with three goals while six others contributed one goal a piece.

La Verne, who next plays at 11 a.m. Saturday against Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, currently holds a 4-18 overall record and 1-1 in SCIAC.

Christian Orozco can be reached at christian.orozco@laverne.edu.

During the second quarter of Saturday’s match, Leopard goalkeeper Brendon Jones attempts to block a shot by Chapman. The Panthers proved to be the dominant feline, beating the Leopards by a 14-8 margin. / photo by Cameron Barr

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