Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Water Polo team opened up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play Wednesday night in a big showdown with Pomona-Pitzer.
It was a physical and much anticipated match-up for the opening night of SCIAC and the Purple & Gold were able to battle on the road pulling off the 9-3 upset of the top-ranked team in Division III. The last time the Poets beat the Sagehens in the regular season was back on September 20, 2017 when they won 7-6 in overtime. The last victory for WC against PP on the road came back in 2015 when they won 16-9.
"We are going to get better," explained Head Coach David Kasa. "It's always great to come out with a win against a team who has had so much success and one we respect. There's a lot of work to be done between now and when we see them again."
The Sagehens who have won the last three SCIAC Championship Titles were overmatched all night and didn't have an answer for Cal Baptist transfer Dominick Nevarez (Norwalk, Calif.) who was 5-for-6 on the evening. Whittier held the Sagehens scoreless in the first quarter, while Nevarez got going with two of his connections. Sam Sasaki got Pomona-Pitzer on the scoreboard at the 5:08 mark in the second but again Nevarez would find the back of the goal two more times, joined by Micah Kamai (Irvine, Calif.).
This moved the score to 5-1 at the break and the Purple & Gold didn't look back. PP got another two in the 3rd to stay within striking distance but former SCIAC Newcomer of the Year Eric Borunda (Whittier, Calif.) would match it with two of his own that kept it a four-goal game. The defense stood strong across the final eight minutes holding the Sagehens scoreless for the second time. Then to secure the upset win, Carlos Heredia Viteri (Commerce, Calif.) and Nevarez would add insurance.
Whittier was outshot on the game 26-24 but was 3-for-6 on power plays. The big stat for the game though was the man-down defense for the Poets as they limited PP to a mere 1-for-10 shooting.
Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) played all 32:00 minutes and picked up the win between the posts tallying 13 saves. Nevarez finished with five goals and four steals.
"This evening we played fantastic defensively," Kasa stated. "Holding a team like Pomona-Pitzer to just three goals shows a great team defensive effort. Murat was huge in goal and the man-down defense holding them 1-for-10 was huge. Now its time to focus on Cal Lutheran and taking one game at a time."
Whittier remains in conference play this Saturday, September 28 when they host Cal Lutheran beginning at 11:00am.