PASADENA (Oct. 31, 2018) – The Caltech men's water polo team had a few tricks up its sleeve for the University of La Verne in Wednesday's SCIAC men's water polo clash, and the Beavers treated themselves to their first SCIAC win of the season, a 9-5 triumph over the Leopards on Halloween and arguably the program's greatest team victory in a long time.
"This game was not won tonight," Head Coach Jon Bonafede said. "This game was won back in practice, earlier in the season and won with the hard work through some of the adversity-heavy moments we've been in. It was really nice to see how some of the skills and tactics we've been working together on came to be. Tonight we played together as a team and we didn't back down."
Senior goalkeeper Shaurya Gilani (Chicago, Ill. / Adlai Stevenson) keyed the victory with two of the men's water polo team's biggest saves of the season. Gilani first denied the Leopards on a breakaway opportunity with two minutes to play in regulation, then recovered from his own penalty foul to stop the visitors on a penalty shot that threatened to cut the deficit to two. The senior finished the game with 10 saves, featuring in all four quarters of one of the greatest games of his Caltech career.
"I thought Shaurya played really well," Bonafede said, "He's had some wonderful moments for us this season and I knew he had a game like this in his system, coming and out and giving us a complete game. Even though we won by four goals, he never let up. Sometimes with a cushion, it can be easy to take your foot off the gas pedal but I didn't see that. Goalies have the ability to single-handedly save the game in this sport, and I thought he met that standard tonight."
Sophomore center Steven Csaposs (Davis, Calif. / Davis) asserted himself right from the get-go, galvanizing Caltech's five-goal first half. The sophomore registered three goals during that span, including the first strike of the game for either team in addition to one of his two assists. Csaposs had every bit as strong of a game defensively, shutting down the Leopards for four steals. Classmate Alex Janosi (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Dexter) played every bit as well as his teammate, going 4-for-4 on sprints while chipping in with one goal, two assists, and three steals without exiting the pool a single time.
As the game progressed, the Beavers began to tighten up defensively while the Leopards struggled to find shooting lanes. Gilani and the Caltech defense did well to limit positive opportunities from the visitors, as the Beavers held the Leopards to just one goal between periods two and three while also holding La Verne's Chuck Ortega, the SCIAC's leading goal scorer scoreless throughout the game's entirety. Freshman Alex Wang (Saratoga, Calif. / The Harker School) also helped the cause with three goals, including the game's final tally to ice the victory for the home team. Senior Eshan Govil (Redwood City, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) contributed one goal and one assist and sophomore Rahul Arun (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Adlai E Stevenson) assisted on three of his team's nine goals.
"I felt like we were the better team the entire game," Bonafede said. "We had moments last year where we put together strong quarters and halves, but I didn't feel we were the better team for the entire game. We came out and proved it to ourselves that we could be capable of such a well-rounded performance, so this one feels special in that way. You're never going to execute perfectly, but I thought tonight came pretty close."
Bonafede and the Beavers will be back at home on Saturday, Nov. 3 when they take on second-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges at 11 a.m.