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Poets use big fourth quarter to edge Stags 12-9

Poets use big fourth quarter to edge Stags 12-9

Photo by: Tony Leon/

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Water Polo team needed a big 4th quarter Wednesday night to edge Claremont-M-S 12-9 at the Slade Aquatic Center.

The Purple & Gold strung together six in a row, which spanned 9:50 and that proved the difference as they would erase a three goal deficit to pull off their third straight Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) victory.

Whittier improves to 6-7, 3-0 SCIAC, while Claremont-M-S drops to 5-6, 2-1 SCIAC.  The Poets are also in sole possession of first place in the conference standings. 

CMS jumped out in front quickly 2-0 within the first three and a half minutes but saw that advantage get erased as Maxwell Murphy (Orinda, Calif.) and Ricardo Reyes Jr. (Commerce, Calif.) would put together three in a row that put WC on top 3-2.  The Stags flipped the script in the 2nd quarter outscoring Whittier 3-2.  Both teams swapped goals early in the period as Mackenzie Aakhus (Bakersfield, Calif.) connected for his first of the game.  But after that CMS converted two power-plays that moved the score to 5-4.  With under :30 seconds to play in the frame the Poets earned a man-up opportunity, which they would convert coming from Hans Zdolsek (Linkoping, Sweden) getting fed by Eric Borunda (Whittier, Calif.).

Within the first :14 seconds of the 3rd quarter the Poets would go on top 6-5 after Borunda would finish a 5-meter.  But over the next five minutes it was all CMS as they would go on a 4-0 run, which included two connections coming from Sam Harrison.  This gave the Stags a 9-5 lead with 2:20 to play in the quarter.  The run was stopped by Zdolsek at the 1:49 mark as he got fed by Murphy and that sparked the comeback the Purple & Gold would need as they would put together five unanswered across the final eight minutes to win 12-9.

During the 4th quarter the Poets held the Stags scoreless and picked up tallies from Zdolsek, Micah Kamai (Irvine, Calif.), Dominick Nevarez (Norwalk, Calif.), Carlos Heredia Viteri (Commerce, Calif.), and Paul Pittion (Aix en Provenca, France).  The last three goals coming off turnovers, which Whittier would capitalize on as Nevarez, Heredia Viteri and Pittion would earn shots with an advantage.

Whittier was outshot by one 32-31 and was 3-for-9 on power-plays after starting the game off going 1-for-7.  Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) who got off to a slow start between the posts picked it up in the second half and finished with 12 saves, a steal, and two dimes.  Zdolsek led the offense with three goals and a steal.  Aakhus and Heredia Viteri added a goal, an assist and a steal and Murphy registered a pair of goals, two assists and a steal.                     

Whittier gets back to non-conference action this weekend as they take part in the Gary Troyer Memorial Tournament.  They play October 4-5 in Claremont, Calif. and will take on UCSD (Oct. 4 @ 1:40pm), Cal Baptist (5:40pm), Johns Hopkins (Oct. 5 @ 11:40am), and Air Force (Oct. 5 @ 5pm).