Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Water Polo team needed all 32:00 and then some Wednesday night as they pulled off the 11-10 victory at the Lillian Slade Aquatic Center over Cal Lutheran University in overtime.
Prior to the game Head Coach Justin Pudwill recognized his four seniors and they were sent off in impressive fashion. The seniors included Andrew Wettstead (Fresno, Calif.), Aidan Tol (Tustin, Calif.), Zane Janich (Sacramento, Calif.), and Tim Aakhus (Bakersfield, Calif.).
The Poets have now won two consecutive and finish the regular season at 16-11, 12-2 SCIAC and have clinched a home game in the first round of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Post Season Tournament. The semi-finals will occur next Friday, November 17 beginning at 7:00pm with opponent yet to be determined.
Whittier has a bye this Saturday but have already earned a spot into the SCIAC Post Season Tournament. They still have the opportunity to claim a regular season Championship Title and the No. 1 seed in the post season but it all comes down to the Saturday match-ups.
After a quick goal from Carlos Heredia Viteri (Commerce, Calif.) to open up the scoring, WC found themselves in a 3-1 hole following three consecutive connections from the Kingsmen. Heredia Viteri stopped the run with another strike at the 4:57 mark but again CLU answered with another three straight to go in front 6-2. Aakhus added the final goal to wrap up the first eight minutes and then pulled the Poets within two to open up the second quarter but again CLU countered to stretch the lead back to three.
Aakhus came up big again late in the second quarter keeping his scoring streak alive this time going near post to cut the deficit to two once again, while adding his third straight connection. Then in the third it became a defensive stand with only one goal being scored coming from the Purple & Gold with 3:02 to play this time from Janich who capitalized on a man-up opportunity to move the score to 7-6.
In the fourth the game went back and forth. Heredia Viteri tied things up with a quick goal on the Poets opening possession. George Lundgren answered to put CLU back on top but again it wouldn't hold as Hans Zdolsek (Linkoping, Sweden) would tack on his first goal of the game moving the contest into a tie at 8-8. The Kingsmen though were determined and continued to battle looking for that road upset as Wyatt Lowe would tack on the go-ahead goal with 3:16 to play. It looked like that one goal advantage would hold following back to back empty possessions by the Poets but on the third attempt they wouldn't be denied as Heredia Viteri would connect getting fed by Tol that sent the game into overtime. (Watch the Equalizer!)
In OT, the Poets came out quickly over the first three minutes with Zdolsek tacking on two giving WC a 11-9 lead (Watch the first goal!) (Watch the second goal!). CLU managed to pull within one early in the second session but the defensive unit by the Purple & Gold would stand strong as they would hold on for the one goal victory. (Watch the final defensive stop!)
Heredia Viteri finished with four goals and three steals for the game. Aakhus and Zdolsek each added three apiece with three steals and Janich tacked on another.
Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) had a slow start to the contest but came up big in the latter stages collecting 14 saves and four steals.