Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
LA VERNE, Calif. – It came down to the final minute of play between the Whittier College Men's Water Polo team and the Leopards of the University of La Verne Wednesday afternoon.
But the Purple & Gold were able to escape the road contest with the 13-12 victory to remain perfect in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play.
Whittier improves now to 4-7, 3-0 SCIAC and sit alone atop the SCIAC Standings.
Playing without starting goalie Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) who was out due to illness, the Poets were still able to pull out the "W" despite ULV providing a scare. Trailing with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Poets were able to notch three goals late to pull off the one-goal victory.
The game was all tied up at 8-8 heading into the final period. Whittier gained the advantage to open up the final stanza from Athlete of the Week Carlos Heredia Viteri (Commerce, Calif.), who answered again a short time after. But ULV managed to strike back with two straight that put them on top at the 5:41 mark.
Tim Aakhus (Bakersfield, Calif.) stopped the mini-run with the equalizer on the Poets next possession and that sparked a 3-0 run with late additions coming from Ryan Flores (Whittier, Calif.) and Hans Zdolsek (Linkoping, Sweden). This put the Poets on top by two and despite Evan Monterroso adding a buzzer beater to end the game, it wouldn't be enough as Whittier would hold on for the one goal victory.
Viteri led the Poets on offense with five goals and two assists along with a steal. Aakhus picked up three goals and two assists, while Flores finished with two connections.
Senior Andrew Wettstead (Fresno, Calif.) played in place of Ersoz and finished with three saves and three steals.
Whittier finished outshooting the Leopards 38-24 but was a mere 1-11 on man-up opportunities.
Whittier returns to the pool at home this Saturday, September 30 as they host Redlands beginning at 11:00am.