Men's Water Polo: Sagehens Spook No. 17 Princeton In Overtime Thriller

Men's Water Polo: Sagehens Spook No. 17 Princeton In Overtime Thriller

CLAREMONT, CA. – The No. 16 Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo Team swept their home doubleheaders on Halloween night, taking down SCIAC rival Cal Lutheran 17-7 and following up with an exhilarating 15-12 overtime victory over No. 17 Princeton University.

Pomona-Pitzer 17, Cal Lutheran 7

The Sagehens throttled the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen to preserve their undefeated conference record. Sam Gorcey-Biblowitz led the home side with four goals while Sam Sasaki added three goals and an assist. Kellan Grant protected the net, making five saves and two steals.

Trailing 1-0 early, Sam Sasaki fired four meters from the net after receiving a pass from Dylan Elliott to score the Sagehens' opening goal. 40 seconds later, Joseph Schafer scored at point blank on the counter attack off a cross pass from Adam Gross. However, the Kingsmen equalized on a penalty to make it 2-2. With 3:01 remaining in the first period, Adam Gross found an open Zach Senator in the right wing. Senator threw off the opposing defense with a quick touch pass to Adam Ward who was near the net and tapped in the cross to make it 3-2. However, the Kingsmen tied the game and ended the period at 3-3.

A minute and forty seconds into the second period, the Sagehens took back the lead thanks to a bullet from two meters by Tony Murphy. Sam Sasaki fired a skipping shot a minute later to extend the lead 5-3. The Sagehens tacked on two more to extend the lead 7-3, but with 35 seconds until the half, Cal Lutheran cut the lead in half. In the final 11 seconds, Sam found an open lane for a shot to make it 8-4 at halftime.

In the third period Adam Ward took a pass in traffic near the goal and muscled a shot through to extend the lead 9-5. Sam Sasaki later lobbed a cross over the heads of Kingsmen defenders and his older brother Noah Sasaki caught the ball and fired past the keeper to make it 10-5. The Sagehens' offense continued to roll in the third period, going on a 5-1 run to finish the third period 15-6.

The Kingsmen struggled to string a run in the final period as the Sagehens' defense and superb goalkeeping of Kellan Grant preserved the lead. Jacob Cohn and Schafer scored a goal each to pad the lead as the Sagehens cruised to a 17-7 victory.

Pomona-Pitzer 15, No. 17 Princeton 12 (OT)

A potential rivalry started brewing on Halloween night when the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens triumphed over No. 17 Princeton University 15-12 in an overtime thriller. In the second round of the unofficial "SAT Bowl", the Sagehens avenged their loss to the Tigers last season, when they fell 12-11 in overtime at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Invitational back on September 23, 2017.

Adam Gross, Joseph Schafer, and Dylan Elliott co-led the team with three goals each while James Kelbert held down the goalpost with six saves and a steal.

"We were coming off good games against Cal Baptist and earlier today against Cal Lutheran," said Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. "This team needed to get shots on the cage and be aggressive. We are a very talented team, so it will always come down to executing our game plan."  

The Sagehens scored the opening goal with 6:12 remaining in the first period when Schafer hurled a skipping shot more than five meters from the opposing cage through the Tigers' defense. After the Tigers responded with a goal 40 seconds later, the two sides traded shots but couldn't build a lead as they remained tied 1-1 at the end of the period.

Things turned ugly for the Sagehens when Princeton found it's rhythm on offense and scored three straight to lead 4-1. Gross later scored on a power play and with 1:36 remaining in the half, Elliott brought the Sagehens within one. However, the Tigers scored one more to extend the lead 5-3 at halftime.

The third period was a tight defensive battle for both sides as neither sides were able to find open looks. Ward managed to bring the Sagehens within one, but the Tigers responded with two goals, heading into the fourth period with a 7-4 lead.

In the final period of regulation, the Sagehens' offense came to life. Tony Murphy opened it up with a rocketing shot off a pass from Gorcey-Biblowitz to cut the lead 7-5. After the Tigers took one goal back, Ben Sasaki repaid the favor with a solo goal. With 4:47 left in the clock, Schafer lobbed a pass over the Tigers' defense near their goal, where a pouncing Ward touched the pass into the back of the net to bring the Sagehens within one. Then after Kelbert saved a shot, the goalie launched a long pass to the racing Gross who slipped past the opposing defense and scored on the counterattack to tie the game. With 2:28 left in the period, Elliott launched a fastball past the keeper to give the Sagehens a 9-8 lead. However, the Tigers tied the match 23 seconds later and the two sides remained tied as they headed into overtime.

Pomona-Pitzer looked poised in the extra period as Schafer and Sam Sasaki scored a goal each to put the team ahead 11-9. Unfortunately, the Tigers refused to back away and took one back with 1:26 remaining. Gross found the net on a power play 30 seconds later, but the Tigers cut the lead to one after firing from the middle of the pool with a second left.

The Tigers tied the game to start the sixth period, but the Sagehens refused to panic. Elliot took back the lead after scoring off a pass from Noah Sasaki. With a minute remaining, Ward took a shot from the right side of the post, but saw his attempt blocked. However, Schafer emerged through the defense and delivered a right hook with his fist to punch the blocked shot back into the net to make it 14-12. Jacob Niskey delivered the dagger with a long distance shot with 24 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Up Next: The Sagehens will play their final home game of the regular season on Saturday, November 3 when they host Whittier at 11:00 a.m. Senior Adam Ward will be honored by the team before the opening sprint.