September 24, 2011

Men's Water Polo Nipped By #7 UCSB 9-8

Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team gave seventh-ranked UC Santa Barbara all it could handle before dropping a 9-8 decision to the Gauchos on Saturday afternoon.

Junior Jason Cox (Arnold, Md. - pictured) had four goals on the afternoon for the Sagehens, who fall to 1-8 on the season, with all nine matches coming against teams in the national top 20 (including a win over No. 15 Navy last weekend). The Navy win was good enough to jump Pomona-Pitzer into the top spot in the Division III rankings, a spot that it will likely hold after pushing one of the top teams in the country to the brink on the road.

The narrow loss was also a sure sign of the progress the team has made in a short time. The Sagehens lost to UC Santa Barbara 16-4 on opening day at UCLA, and also lost to the Gauchos 12-7 at the Inland Empire Invitational on Sept. 10.

In fact, the Sagehens used two straight goals in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 8-8 with 1:52 to go. Just moments later, though, the Gauchos took the lead back on a man-up goal from Teddy Zhang, and were able to hold on down the stretch for the one-goal win.

Sophomore Ryan Higgins (Orinda, Calif.) added two goals for the Sagehens, while senior Jaron Moler (Carmichael, Calif.) and junior Mark Hudnall (Los Altos, Calif.) each added a goal. Goalkeeper Jay Lovero had 11 saves for the Gauchos to prevent Pomona-Pitzer from pulling off the upset. 

The Sagehens will return to action next weekend when it travels to participate in the So Cal Tournament, hosted by Long Beach State, on Oct. 1-2. The difficult schedule continues, as Pomona-Pitzer will open play against USC, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and then play either UC Irvine or UC Davis, which are ranked No. 8 and No. 9, respectively.