CLAREMONT, CA. – The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team was crowned as the 2017 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Tournament Champions after their 9-7 win over Whittier College on Sunday afternoon at Haldeman Pool.
The Sagehens have now won back-to-back SCIAC Championships and two-straight SCIAC Tournament Championships for the first time since 2011-2012 and gives Head Coach Alex Rodriguez his sixth SCIAC Championship on the men's side and his 14th overall as the head of both the men's and women's programs.
The Sagehens were led by Jacob Niskey who tallied a team-high two goals in the win as the only Sagehens to have a multi-goal afternoon. Daniel Diemer continued his incredible play in goal for the Sagehens as he stopped 11 shots in the win with one steal and was named as the SCIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
The Poets got out on the scoreboard first to start the game but the Sagehens scored back-to-back from Niskey and Adam Ward to take a 2-1 lead midway through the first. The Poets responded to even the score at 2-2 but Riley Mangan netted a buzzer beater to end the first period to give Pomona-Pitzer a 3-2 lead.
Whittier had the upper hand in the second as they outscored the Sagehens 2-1 in the period. The Poets opened up the second with two-straight goals until Mark Hallmanresponded for the Sagehens with 1:29 left to go before half. Neither team could find a go-ahead goal before halftime as the teams went into the break even at 4-4.
The Poets took a brief lead to open up the second half but that would be the last time the Poets enjoyed a lead in this game as the Sagehens went on to score two of the final three goals of the third with goals from Joseph Schafer, Niskey and Dylan Elliott to give Pomona-Pitzer a 7-6 lead heading into the fourth.
Diemer came up big with a few saves on the defensive side of the ball and that gave the opportunity for the Sagehens to go down and take their largest lead of the game as Noah Sasaki scored give the Sagehens a 9-6 advantage with 4:35 remaining.
With the way the Sagehens were playing defense, the Poets had to find offense and find it fast. The Poets tried desperately to try and claw back into the game as they notched a goal with 2:16 remaining to cut the lead down to 9-7 but the Sagehens were too strong for the Poets and claimed the 2017 SCIAC Tournament Championship.
Up Next: The Sagehens will await the NCAA selections to be release on Monday morning to find out their next opponent in the NCAA Tournament.