GLENDORA, Calif. – The Caltech men's water polo team took a short hop east on the 210 freeway to participate in the annual Citrus College Tournament and accomplished something that had not happened in 22 years: a three-game winning streak.
The Beavers entered the weekend as the eighth seed and squared off against the top-seeded Hornets from Fullerton College. The squad struggled early to find an answer for sophomore standout, Joe Feaster. The second-year attacker rifled in 6 goals on 7 attempts in the opening frame and at the conclusion of the first 8 minutes, Caltech was staring at a 6-1 deficit. At the break, defensive adjustments were implemented, but the damage had already been done. The final score read 17-6.
After the first game setback, the Beavers rallied in the nightcap game against Santa Monica College. Juniors Patric Eck and Jim Blackwood found the back of the net in the first quarter and sophomore Chris Bradley tallied two of his own to get the Beavers out to a 4-1 advantage. The teams traded goals in the second and third quarters to show a score of 9-6 entering the pivotal fourth quarter. The Corsairs came out like gangbusters in the fourth scoring on their first two possessions to bring the contest within a goal. The Beavers responded on the ensuing possession and after that, playing defense was seemingly optional. Freshman Henry "Tugboat" Baer scored his first collegiate goal, and it was a critical one. Blazing out in transition, Baer netted a goal that would ultimately provide the cushion the Beavers needed. When the final buzzer sounded, Caltech emerged unscathed with a 12-10 victory.
"You gotta shoot a few," Baer explained, "to toot a few."
On Saturday morning, Caltech matched up with Miramar College for the right to play for fifth place in the afternoon. Bradley, who struggled shooting the day before, clearly altered his mechanics in a positive way. The sophomore who had been the Beavers' biggest scoring threat to date erupted for a new career best 8 goals against the Jets. But Bradley's arm alone was not going to seal the victory in this contest. Like a carbon copy of the previous night's game, the opponent rallied from a deep deficit in the fourth to make it a contest. The upset-minded Jets were down entering the fourth as the scoreboard read 8-4 with 8 minutes to play. Miramar was able to net three consecutive goals to get well within striking distance at 8-7. Caltech's next possession looked as if it was going to be an empty one until the ball fell into the hands of Blackwood. With the shot clock near expiration, he heaved a spin lob 15 feet off the water from seven meters out that hung in the air for no less than five seconds. After what felt like an eternity, the ball landed comfortably in the opposite upper corner of the goal. That was enough to ensure victory for the Beavers by a 10-7 margin.
"I just did what I do every day in practice," a nonchalant Blackwood explained.
In the fifth place game of the tournament, Caltech faced off against the Dons of Santa Ana College and Bradley had himself a day. Just hours off of setting a new career best in scoring, Bradley upped the ante by netting 10 of the Beavers' 12 goals.
"If I'm being one hundred," Bradley said, "I'm gonna give one hundred. Ninety-nine won't cut it."
The scoring onslaught kept Caltech ahead throughout the contest and secured a fifth place finish, 12-10.
The current three-game winning streak hasn't been seen on the Pasadena campus since the 1992 season. The polo team now stands level at 4-4 and will resume competition this Friday, September 19, for its home opener against Cerritos College and LA Trade Tech.