ANNAPOLIS, Md. – For the first time in recent memory, the Caltech men's water polo team took to the skies and traveled to compete in the Navy Open. The Beavers had a four game slate against formidable competition that was highlighted with a high scoring victory against Division II opponent, Salem International University.
Throughout the weekend, the squad took big strides on the offensive front averaging more than 12 goals per contest over the four game stint. Leading the scoring parade was sophomore attacker, Chris Bradley.
"You gotta take a few to make a few," commented Bradley, who led all tournament scorers over the weekend, tallying 24 goals.
Senior goalkeeper, Ben Grabowksi, who is coming off an All-American junior campaign, once again anchored the defense. His 60 stops for the weekend has him on a blistering pace to shatter his own school record of saves in a season of 281.
"My job is pretty simple," Grabowski said. "See ball, block ball."
The marquis game of the weekend was against Salem International University. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes of action forcing a tactical timeout. From there, Caltech regrouped and scored two unanswered goals to end the first quarter deadlocked. From there, the game devolved into a heavyweight title bout where both squads forsook defense and went on scoring sprees.
The Beavers erupted for seven goals in the second quarter with a balanced attack. Sophomore Tomas Tussie, junior Jim Blackwood (2), junior Patric Eck, senior Matt Lappin and Bradley (2) all found the back of the net. Despite the onslaught, the pesky Tigers peppered Grabowski five times in the stanza bringing the first half to a close with the Beavers holding a 9-7 advantage.
In the third, it was Salem's turn to win an 8-minute frame. The Serbian, inside-outside combo of junior center Borislav Kovacav and sharpshooter freshman Djordje Stavreski hit five goals between them, outpacing the four goal effort from the Beavers. Entering the ultimate quarter, Caltech found itself clinging to a 13-12 lead.
It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter the team found some breathing room. Eck scored in the opening minute of the frame only to have Salem score on the ensuing possession. Two possessions later, Blackwood hit his sixth goal of the game, but once again, the Tigers came right back to score and still trailed by just one. Finally, Caltech was able to consolidate defensively after their next scored goal. Bradley added one more insurance goal in the final 90 seconds to ensure the 17-14 victory.
"Our offense over the weekend was wholly more productive than a year ago," head coach Patrick Beemer said. "We clearly have ample room to grow, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, but this weekend was a great start to our season."
Standing at 1-3 on the young 2014 season, the team returns to Southern California action this Friday and Saturday at the Citrus Tournament in Glendora.