The men’s water polo team saw its winning streak come to a halt Wednesday afternoon after suffering a 12-8 loss to Cal Lutheran in the final home game of the season at Las Flores Park.
The Leopards’ season is coming to a close and the squad is now 4-21 overall and 2-5 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Wednesday’s match against the Kingsmen was a competitive game full of excitement, emotion and tension amongst the players and fans.
Emotion played a large role during the game and began to get physical in the second half.
“A lot of guys got frustrated and we got in trouble for it,” senior utility Arturo Villalpando said. “We just need to play a little bit smarter.”
The Leopards went into halftime with a 6-4 lead over the Kingsmen.
“We proved during the first half how good we are,” Villalpando said. “We could have kept better control on our emotions.”
Goals from freshman utility Bryan Jimenez and freshman utility Viken Huening gave La Verne a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Freshman driver Jordan Ashley added to the lead, making the score 3-1.
Then Kingsmen senior two-meter Max Zappas scored two consecutive goals, tying the game at 3-3.
With less than four minutes left in the half, Ashley, Villalpando and freshman driver Troy Williams finished the half with three goals.
The Kingsmen got off to a strong start in the third quarter when they tied the game, 7-7.
By the end of the third quarter, Cal Lutheran managed to steal the lead from the Leopards holding a one-point advantage.
The Kingsmen entered the fourth quarter with an 8-7 lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Cal Lutheran continued putting the pressure on the Leopards and they were able to stretch its lead to 11-7.
“We were playing perfectly until the end of the game,” sophomore utility Alex Beltrol-Navarro said. “We had a few mistakes later in the game; our emotions got the best of us.”
Within the last three minutes of the fourth quarter, both the Leopards and the Kingsmen each managed to score a goal in the final minutes, ending the game 12-8.
“We feel pretty good,” head coach Alex La said.
“We are finally figuring out that we are a good team and now we finally have that confidence.”
La Verne will close out the season with its last SCIAC game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Redlands.
SCIAC playoffs will begin the following week on Nov. 9 in Whittier.
Times and matchups will be determined.
Taylor Perez-Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.