Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Whittier College Men's Water Polo team got their 2019 season underway this weekend at the UCSD Invite. They opened Day 1 with two tough match-ups with No. 4 Cal (22-2) and No. 14 Loyola Marymount (12-10).
They then returned on Day 2 to sweep Concordia (Calif.) 11-9 and Chapman University (10-5).
Game 1 (No. 4 Cal - L, 22-2)
It was a tough start to the invite for Whittier as they faced off against Cal Berkeley. The Golden Bears held WC scoreless in the first quarter, while going on top 7-0. Whittier added their first goal in the second from Carlos Heredia Viteri (Commerce, Calif.) but still trailed 12-1 at the half.
Out of the break WC would add another connection again from Heredia-Viteri but Cal would go on to add another 10 goals to come away with the lopsided victory.
Game 2 (No. 14 LMU - L, 12-10)
Whittier looked to pick up their first upset of the season as they took on Loyola Marymount in the afternoon on Day 1. LMU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter. Hans Zdolsek (Linkoping, Sweden) and Kaan Hamurculu (Istanbul, Turkey) though would add two of their own to tie things up. The last goal of the frame came from Maxwell Murphy (Orinda, Calif.) as he would send the game into a deadlock.
In the second the Poets came out strong defensively as they would outscore the Lions 2-1 to take a 5-4 lead into the break. Amad Helwani (La Habra, Calif.) and Eric Borunda (Whittier, Calif.) would each find the back of the goal. Out of the break LMU had a big offensive surge with six goals. Whittier was able to add three themselves from Ricardo Reyes Jr. (Commerce, Calif.), Chad Portugal (La Habra Heights, Calif.) and Heredia-Viteri that made it a two-goal game going into the fourth.
Murphy got WC within one with under four minutes to play and Mackenzie Aakhus (Bakersfield, Calif.) kept it close two minutes later but Whittier couldn't complete the comeback as LMU would add an insurance goal at the 1:29 mark.
In goal Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) played huge collecting 11 stops and a pair of steals.
Game 3 (Concordia - W, 11-9)
The Poets rebounded nicely on Day 2. They started with a solid two-goal victory against Concordia. They jumped all over the Eagles 4-1 scoring the first four goals of the game from Murphy, Hamurculu, and Micah Kamai (Irvine, Calif.). Whittier stretched their lead to 6-1 at the break as they shutout CUI, while getting a pair of connections from Borunda.
Out of the half CUI found their offense getting four goals but couldn't make a dent as Whittier would also pepper the net with four themselves from Zdolsek, Heredia-Viteri, Murphy, and Borunda. Holding a five-goal lead into the fourth the Poets saw CUI put up another four goals. They answered with two quickly to get within three. Hamurculu would stop the run with his second of the game with 2:29 to play but after that the Eagles would tack on another two, which got them within a pair.
Ersoz was again solid between the posts with ten saves.
Game 4 (Chapman - W, 10-5)
The Purple & Gold got their first look at a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opponent in Chapman University to end the invite but was untested as they cruised to the five-goal victory.
It was a low scoring first quarter with WC holding a 1-0 lead coming from Kamai. Cornelis Kriek (Pretoria, South Africa) added a quick two in the early stages of the second to extend the lead to 3-0 and then added another in the latter parts of the period that gave the Poets a 5-3 at the break.
The 3rd was deadlocked with both teams adding a pair of goals. Portugal and Borunda connected that kept the lead at two and then in the 4th Whittier pulled away with three unanswered from Zdolsek, Paul Pittion (Aix en Provence, France), and Borunda that put the game out of reach.
Ersoz was stellar in goal again picking up double-digit saves with 14.
Next Saturday, September 14 Whittier travels out East to the Inland Empire Classic where they will take on No. 5 Long Beach State (10:20am) and No. 1 USC (1:20pm).