Posted: Sep 11, 2015
GLENDORA, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2015) – The Caltech men's water polo team picked up three wins to place fifth at the Citrus College Tournament this past Friday and Saturday.
Junior Christopher Bradley (Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Serra) and senior James Blackwood (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) carried the Beavers on offense, combining for 29 goals and 12 assists over the four-game tournament.
After dropping the opener to the host Owls, 17-10, the Beavers closed out the event with three straight dominant wins over San Diego Miramar College (11-4), Santa Monica College (11-5) and Grossmont College (12-5) to improve to 4-2 to start the season.
Citrus 17, Caltech 10
The Beavers opened the tournament with a slow start against the hosts, falling behind 5-0 in the first quarter. A timeout allowed Head Coach Jon Bonafede to adjust the defense and Caltech began to pull back into the game. Senior Patric Eck (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) drew an exclusion with 1:30 left in the first quarter and then scored with the man advantage on a post shot off a beautiful pass from Blackwood.
"I have been making that same pass to Pat for a long time now," Blackwood said. "It is like second nature to know when he is open on the 6-on-5."
Once on the scoreboard, the Beavers gained more momentum through the second quarter, outscoring the Owls 3-1 to narrow the margin to three at 7-4 by the break. Bradley capped the half with a 5-meter penalty conversion just 19 seconds from the whistle.
As the third quarter got underway, Blackwood, Bradley and freshman Eshan Govil (Redwood City, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) each found the back of the net, but Citrus was able to muster four goals to extend the lead and sealed the victory with a seven-goal fourth quarter, led by All-American Jonathan Lotero. Bradley notched a pair of goals and Eck added one for the Beavers in the final period. Freshman Shaurya Gilani (Chicago, Ill. / Adlai Stevenson) made six saves in net over the first half while freshman John Lloyd (San Diego, Calif. / Torrey Pines) recorded two in the second half.
"Citrus has a lot of depth and talent," Bonafede said. "It was a great game for us to gauge where we are at and what we need to work on."
Caltech 11, Miramar 4
Although Caltech got off to a slow start in the second game, Govil handed the Beavers the lead with the only strike of the quarter at the 3:44 mark. Freshman Charles Ross (Wexford, Pa. / North Allegheny) kept Miramar off the board with a huge save on a breakaway and the Beavers extended the margin to two by halftime, courtesy of a pair of goals by Blackwood.
Caltech pulled away in the third quarter, capped by four unanswered goals in the final four minutes, with two each from Blackwood and Bradley. Freshman Billy Bloomquist (Campbell, Calif. / The Harker School) broke out with a late goal in the third quarter and another strike in the fourth while Bradley netted two more. Ross finished an impressive performance in net with 12 saves and two steals.
Caltech 11, Santa Monica 5
The Beavers entered Day Two refreshed from the big win over Miramar, jumping out to a 3-0 lead on their first three possessions over the first two minutes vs. Santa Monica, thanks to several quality plays. Bradley connected on a pass to junior Tomas Tussie (Weston, Fla. / Cypress Bay) at the 7:22 mark and, after a pair of successful defensive stands, Blackwood found the back of the net on a counterattack from the hole set 40 seconds later and Tussie converted out of hole set on a nice step-out shot. Santa Monica pulled one back before the end of the quarter, but Bradley went off for a whopping five goals in the second quarter to stake Caltech to an 8-2 lead heading into halftime. With the busy weekend slate, the Beavers rotated players a bit more than usual and senior Matthew Cedeno (Virginia Beach, Va. / Ocean Lakes) came up with a big goal from the post on an assist from sophomore Henry Baer (Lafayette, Calif. / Acalanes) just 27 seconds from the final whistle. Lloyd and Gilani combined to make nine saves in goal.
"I was very pleased with how we played this game," Bonafede said. "Henry's pass to Cedeno is something we have really been working on in practice, and it's great to see that translate to a game situation."
Caltech 12, Grossmont 5
After defeating Grossmont by a lone goal just one week prior, the Beavers knew what they were facing in Grossmont and took control from the outset. Blackwood netted the first goal just 35 seconds into the game and, after Grossmont equalized, stretched out to a 4-1 lead by the end of the first quarter and 8-1 at halftime. The Griffins mustered two more goals in each of the final quarters, but the Beavers were never in danger of letting the lead slip away as Ross, Gilani and Lloyd combined to stop 17 shots and Baer led the defense with four steals.
"We are getting a lot better at team defense and counterattacking, and that showed in the score difference just a week after beating them on our first day of competition," Bonafede said. "Guys are starting to build chemistry in their playing styles and it is creating a lot of good scoring opportunities. We had a really good shooting day and were working hard to get good looks."
Bonafede and the Beavers will take on Cerritos College (4-3) on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Norwalk, Calif.