The men’s water polo team fell short of a victory on Wednesday on the road against Pomona-Pitzer with a 17-8 loss.
The Sagehens were able to get out to an early start against the Leopards and never looked back.
“The beginning is always important,” head coach Alex La said.
“If you look at all the games we have won it was because we came out strong.”
This was La Verne’s fourth Southern California Intercollegiate Conference game and looked to improve their SCIAC record to an even .500.
Pomona-Pitzer controlled the game in the first period, swimming to their side of the pool after the buzzer with a daunting 5-1 lead.
The Sagehens jumped out to a 9-3 lead and by halftime they were up 10-4.
In the first half both teams were quick to counter. The Sagehens made the best of their opportunities, but on the other side of the pool the same could not be said about the Leopards.
Wild passes led to turnovers for La Verne.
The Sagehens, who are ranked No. 4 in the Collegiate Water Polo Assocation Division III poll, knew what to do with the ball and converted those turnovers into plenty of scores.
La Verne saw many of their shots fly off the crossbar or posts, which created frustration for the players.
“We definitely didn’t show what kind of team we are with the way we played,” freshman driver Jon Jarvis said.
Despite the 10-4 lead at halftime, the Sagehens still found it difficult to get some shots past freshman goalkeeper Dan Newell. At the start of the second half he continued to make great saves.
On top of Newell’s performance, La Verne’s defense seemed to have improved from the first half.
The Leopards’ offense coming out of the halftime break began to click much more smoothly.
La Verne struck first in the second half on a six-on-four by senior two-meter player Andrew Mackay.
The Leopards, ranked No. 10, continued to get looks at the goal. However, the Sagehens’ defense did not allow many of them to go through.
At the end of the third period the Sagehens were still up 13-6.
La Verne had a few opportunities to score on the Sagehens in the fourth period.
A couple of those opportunities were when La Verne earned six-on-five player advantages.
Unfortunately all of those opportunities were cut short by the Sagehens’ defense.
“We didn’t come up big when we needed to,” freshman utility player Julian Casillas said. “It was very important for us to come out strong early.”
“It’s been a problem for us all season,” La said. “It’s always hard to come back when you go down by so much.”
With the final seconds winding down in the fourth quarter, Casillas managed to find the last shot.
Casillas used a quick drive to beat his defense and found himself open in front of the cage.
After Casillas received a pass he put up the final shot that launched off the top of the cross bar as the final buzzer rang to end the game.
That shot essentially summed up the whole game and the frustration felt by the Leopards.
La Verne was led by MacKay with two goals for the afternoon. Six other Leopards found the back of the net in route to the loss.
Pomona’s junior two-meter player Jason Cox scored four goals. Five other players had two for the Sagehens.
With the loss, La Verne fell to 4-20 overall and 1-3 in the SCIAC.
The Leopards look to rebound when they next face off against the No. 8 Occidental Tigers at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Occidental.
La Verne previously defeated the Tigers in their first matchup of the season by a 9-7 tally at Las Flores Park on Sept. 10 during the Inland Empire Tournament.
Christian Orozco can be reached at email@example.com.