PASADENA, Calif. – The men's water polo team had a jammed packed weekend of games, including their 2014 home opener last Friday. The Beavers played host to Cerritos College and LA Trade Tech at Braun Pool on campus. Caltech ended up splitting games, dropping a tight contest to Cerritos College before sinking LA Trade Tech in the afternoon.
The first game against the Falcons of Cerritos was a back-and-forth affair early. The Beavers jumped out to an early lead off a beautiful no-look pass from junior attacker Jim Blackwood to junior utility Patric Eck at the 5:20 mark in the first period. Cerritos would score the next two over the next three minutes only to see the score equalized by an unassisted score from sophomore Chris Bradley. The Falcons went on another short run to end the first leading 4-2. Over the next two quarters, Cerritos was able to extend their lead. At the 2:54 mark in the third quarter, the Beavers were facing a 5 goal deficit. However, the Caltech men showed their resiliency and rattled off 5 of the next 6 goals. After watching a comfortable lead dissipate to a scant 12-11 advantage, Cerritos head coach Joe Abing quelled the Beaver advance with a tactical timeout. Cerritos was able to convert on a set play after the pause and the comeback-minded Beavers ran out of gas. The final score stood 16-12.
Blackwood and Bradley each finished with 4 goals. Eck finished with a hat trick and sophomore center Tomas Tussie added a tally as well. Senior goalkeeper Ben Grabowski broke his own school record for saves in a game. The 2013 All-American turned away 22 shots in the losing effort.
Game two of the double header against LA Trade Tech ended with a different result. Caltech didn't waste time getting on the scoreboard. Bradley scored on the second possession of the game and was followed quickly by a Blackwood score. Bradley completed a hat trick at the 3:33 mark in the first. Freshman attacker Phillip An scored his first collegiate goal as time was expiring in the first quarter with Caltech holding a commanding 5-1 advantage.
"I didn't really know what was happening," An said, "but I thought I had a chance to score, and I did."
The Beavers continued to score in bunches throughout the contest. Sophomore center Jordan Bonilla, who scored his first collegiate goal only a week ago, added two more tallies for the home squad.
"After scoring last week," Bonilla explained, "my brain chemistry changed."
When the final buzzer sounded, the water polo squad finished victorious with a 15-8 final. Multiple team members were in on the scoring onslaught. Eck, Tussie, Blackwood and senior attacker Matt Lappin all found the back of the net once. An, Bonilla and sophomore attacker Parth Shah scored twice each, and Bradley led all scorers with 5. Grabowski played three quarters in the win notching 14 saves. Shah came on in relief in the 4th quarter registering 1 save and 1 goal allowed.
On Saturday, the Beavers traveled to Whittier College to face SCIAC foe Occidental in a non-conference match-up. The Tigers stymied the Beavers with aggressive perimeter defense and a quick transition offense. Caltech struggled to find both an offensive and defensive answer for Oxy and were looking at the wrong end of a 10-1 halftime score. After some adjustments at the break, Caltech was able to score the first two goals of the second half, but the damage had already been done. Bradley was able to muster 3 goals in the losing affair and Blackwood added another. The final score read 17-4.
The Beavers are now 5-6 and have already surpassed their 2013 win total by two games.
Caltech polo returns to action this Sunday, September 29, when they play host to the visiting Camels of Connecticut College.