BERKELEY, Calif. – The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Water Polo team took down No. 8 UC Irvine and Air Force in overtime at the Mountain Pacific/NorCal Invitational.
This win marks the first time in program history the Sagehens have defeated UC Irvine.
Junior goalkeeper Daniel Diemer had a game to remember as he tallied a season-high 12 saves in the win for Pomona-Pitzer.
The Sagehens jumped out in front of UC Irvine in the first period as senior Timmy Hardman scored the first goal of the game to take a 1-0 lead.
UC Irvine battled back and took the lead after two-straight goals to take a 2-1 lead with 2:52 left in the first period. Pomona-Pitzer answered with goals from freshman Joseph Schafer and senior James Baker as the two teams ended the first with a 3-3 tie.
Both teams played a very even first half as neither team could pull away from one another. The second period was a hard fought defensive battle as each team only scored one goal with sophomore Adam Ward scoring the only goal of the period for the Sagehens as the teams went into the locker room tied at 4-4.
The Sagehens trailed briefly in the third but battled back with goals from Schafer and junior Mark Hallman to stay tied with UC Irvine heading into the fourth quarter.
Pomona-Pitzer jumped out to an early lead in the fourth after a goal by senior Tommy Turner and held the lead for the majority of the period but UC Irvine answered with a goal in the final minute to send the match into overtime.
Freshman Jacob Niskey came up big in the first overtime with a goal with only three seconds left on the clock. The Sagehen defense was able to hold off UC Irvine in the second overtime period to seal the game and upset the No. 8 team in the nation.
"This was a great win for our program," said Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. "I think my athletes want to show the water polo world and the SCIAC that we can play."
The Sagehens followed up their memorable win with another gutsy performance against Air Force.
Pomona-Pitzer jumped out to an early 2-1 lead in the first period with goals from Turner and Baker. The Sagehens kept their two goal lead as they went into halftime with a 5-3 advantage after goals from Ward, Schafer and Hallman.
Air Force began to battle back into the match during the second half as they outscored the Sagehens 2-1 in the third period and tied the match at 7-7 with 2:48 to go in the fourth.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the final two minutes and the Sagehens went into overtime for the second-straight match.
Pomona-Pitzer scored two big goals in the first overtime period as Baker and Niskey found the back of the net. The Sagehens' defense shutout the Air Force offense in overtime and Pomona-Pitzer went on to win its second-straight overtime game of the day.
"If you said we would play in the ninth place game at the NorCal, I wouldn't believe you", said Rodriguez. "Beating UCI was a huge win for this program and great for our confidence. Diemer stepped up in goal today and made himself into a really special goalie for us. Our guys played with a special dynamic today and aren't afraid to play against Division I talent."
The Sagehens will next play against either Princeton or UC Davis in the final day of the Mountain Pacific/NorCal Tournament.