PASADENA, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2014) – Sophomore Chris Bradley (Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Serra) scored his 100th goal of the season while leading the Caltech men's water polo team to a thrilling 15-13 victory over Chaffey College in the nightcap after the Beavers fell in their SCIAC opener against the University of La Verne, 17-7, on Wednesday evening.
The Beavers are now 7-12 overall and begin SCIAC play 0-1.
Caltech 7, La Verne 17
Both teams took some time to get going in the first quarter, but La Verne struck first just over three minutes into the match. Junior Jim Blackwood (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) scored the first of his team-high four goals to even things up at the 2:45 mark, but the Leopards rattled off two quick goals on their next two possessions to lead 3-1. Caltech got one back just before the break to trail by only one, 3-2.
La Verne came out firing in the second quarter, however, and quickly built up a 6-2 lead. The Leopards held the four-goal margin heading into halftime, 7-4, and a 6-1 edge in the third quarter sealed the victory as Blackwood and Bradley provided the only offense for the Beavers.
"We were able to execute effectively on offense and generate ample opportunities, but we did not finish enough of our chances," Head Coach Pat Beemer said.
Caltech 15, Chaffey 13
Another tight first-quarter battle was in the cards for the nightcap, but this time the Beavers lit up the scoreboard first as Blackwood scored on the first possession. Chaffey quickly turned the tables with goals on each of the following two possessions, but Caltech leveled on its next chance as Bradley opened his account with an ejection goal. The Panthers took another brief lead at the 3:40 mark, but Bradley equalized again on the next possession and gave Caltech its first lead of the match with 1:39 remaining in the quarter. Chaffey would even things up just before the first break, however.
The Panthers rode the momentum of their late first-quarter strike to a quick 5-4 lead, but the Beavers took over from there. Four different Beavers scored unanswered goals over the next five minutes to propel Caltech to the biggest lead of the match at 8-5, capped by a penalty goal by Bradley. Chaffey notched a consolation goal to make it 8-6 heading into halftime, but senior Ben Grabowski (Lake Forest Park, Wa. / Inglemoon) ensured that was all the Leopards got as he recorded a whopping eight of his 14 saves over the quarter.
With three players already facing ejection heading into the second half, Bradley and Blackwood bookended a Chaffey goal early in the third quarter to make it 10-7, but then the Leopards made their push. Three straight goals over a 1:39 span leveled the match, and a brief Caltech lead was quickly cut out by another Chaffey goal. Bradley came up in the clutch, however, to give the Beavers a 12-11 lead before the final quarter.
The sophomore was far from finished, as he fired home two more goals in the first 1:35 of the fourth quarter to hand the surging Beavers a 14-11 lead. Junior Patric Eck (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) made it four straight goals with his strike at the 3:56 mark, and the Beavers looked on their way to a comfortable win.
Chaffey mustered a furious rally, however, knocking the Caltech defense on its heels with a pair of quick goals to make it a two-goal match with 2:22 left to play. The Beavers defense stepped up when needed, though, and turned away several dangerous chances to preserve the victory.
"This win showed the resiliency of the squad," Beemer said. "After struggling at points in the first game, we consolidated as a group and started firing on all cylinders."
Bradley's combined 11 goals pushed his season total to 101, making him just the second Beaver in program history to top the century mark. He sits just 16 behind all-time leader David Bruning, who scored 117 and 116 in the 1986 and 1987 seasons.
"I'm just trying to stay hot," Bradley said. "Trust in the game plan, trust in my teammates, and just execute."
Beemer, Bradley and the Beavers will look to carry the momentum into SCIAC play as they host the University of Redlands (4-17, 0-2) on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m.