Whittier, Calif. - Junior Ryan Higgins (Orinda, Calif.) scored with 14 seconds left in the first overtime to give the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team a 9-8 win over CMS in the consolation bracket of the WWPA Championships on Saturday afternoon at Whittier College.
With the win, the Sagehens improve to 15-16 on the year and take the season series from CMS two games to one, after the Stags won the SCIAC finals last weekend, also at Whittier. Pomona-Pitzer moves on to the fifth-place game tomorrow, when they will take on Santa Clara at 10:45 a.m. CMS will face Whittier in the seventh-place match at 9 a.m.
Senior Cody Moore (San Dimas, Calif. - pictured, photo by Becky Gaut) led the Sagehens with four goals in regulation, three of which came in the first half. CMS appeared ready to take a 5-4 lead into intermission despite the three goals from Moore, but senior Jason Cox (Arnold, Md.) got loose on a breakaway and scored in the closing seconds to deadlock the game at 5-5.
Pomona-Pitzer got off to a quick start in the third quarter, as junior Jarrod Gaut (Irvine, Calif.) and sophomore Clayton Hardman (Old Greenwich, Conn.) scored 6-on-5 goals to give the Sagehens a quick 7-5 lead. CMS cut the lead to 7-6 on a goal from Mark Nietzel after three quarters, but Gaut drew a five-meter penalty and Moore converted for his fourth goal to make the score 8-6.
Pomona-Pitzer held the lead until the closing minutes, but Conrad Shabb scored with 2:32 left and Daniel Cogan knotted the score with a man-up goal in front of the cage with 59 seconds left to erase the lead. Each team tried to break the tie with long-range shots from distance in the final seconds, but neither tested the goalkeepers.
Higgins broke the deadlock late in the first overtime on a counter after a long outlet from junior goalie Tyler Hill (Lafayette, Calif.), getting space on the left side and scoring on a skip shot past CMS goalie James Kelly, who had a spectacular effort with 17 saves. Higgins nearly put the Sagehens up by two with just over a minute to go in the second overtime, but Kelly came up with the big save to give the Stags a chance.
On their final possession looking for a tie, the Stags worked a crossing pass to the weak side to find John Holland in close, but Hill was able to deflect it off the bar and the Sagehen defense was quick to the loose ball after it appeared CMS might have a chance to score on the rebound. Pomona-Pitzer called timeout with 19 seconds left, and was able to kill the rest of the clock to hold on for the one-goal win.
Gaut had two goals for the Sagehens, joining Moore with multiple tallies, while Hill finished with eight saves (including two big ones in overtime).
Pomona-Pitzer and Santa Clara met once before at the NorCal Tournament at Stanford, with Santa Clara capturing a narrow 10-8 win back on Sept. 14.