CLAREMONT, CA. – History was made on Sunday afternoon as the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo Team captured their third straight SCIAC Championship after defeating cross-street rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps comfortably 11-4 at Haldeman Pool. It was a clinical performance by the Sagehens in both ends of the pool as James Kelbert was a wall between the goalposts, making 11 saves, while Adam Ward and Sam Sasaki co-led the offense with a hat trick each.
"We didn't want to look past winning the conference," said Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. "We can't achieve playing in the play-in game without winning the conference. We've tried to take a different approach and expectations. It's been a tough season managing all that, not trying to take games lightly and trying to be at our best and improve. Every day you have to get better or you'll get worse. There's no in-between."
Season Impact: The Sagehens are now 24-8 overall in the season and will be awaiting their next opponent for the play-in game to compete at the NCAA Tournament.
The Sagehens wasted little time to get the advantage as Sam Sasaki lasered a left-hand from distance to score within the opening minute. Less than a minute later, Adam Ward doubled the lead scoring while being half-submerged underwater. The Stags cut the lead in half, but later with 4:01 left in the period, Ward made it 3-1 after receiving a pass from Sam Sasaki. With 1:26 remaining, Sam Gorcey-Biblowitz fired from long distance to close the period with a 4-1 lead.
The Stags cut the lead in half to start the second period after a goal by William Clark. However, Ward managed to keep the Stags at distance with a goal off an assist by Zach Senator. Later the Sagehens capitalized on a power play as Joseph Schafer scored off a quick pass from Sam Sasaki. The Stags stayed within three after a goal by Koss Klobucher, but Gorcey-Biblowitz made it 7-3 after another long-distance rocket. With a 7-4 lead, the Sagehens closed the half on a strong note after Ben Sasaki scored with five seconds left to extend the lead 8-4.
The second half started off on a contentious note as neither side took advantage of the early scoring opportunities. It wasn't until 4:32 remaining in the third period when the Sagehens scored as Sam Sasaki found the back of the net. The Sagehens' defense did an excellent job shutting out the Stags' offense and killing any hopes of a comeback, shutting down passing lanes and denying easy looks at goal. With 15 seconds remaining, the Sagehens extended the lead 10-4 thanks to a goal by Riley Mangan.
The Sagehens' defense put on a shutout in the final period, holding the Stags scoreless thanks to their consistent defensive effort. Sam Sasaki completed his hat trick with 5:33 left in the game and the Sagehens closed out the match with no fuss.
Up Next: The selection show for the NCAA Tournament will be at 7:00 p.m. tonight as the Sagehens look forward to knowing their next opponent.