After starting the season with a preseason tour that brought two wins in nine games, men’s water polo lost its first conference game to reigning conference champion Pomona-Pitzer at home Sept. 16.
Chapman found itself squaring off with the No. 19 nationally ranked water polo program in the country. Pomona-Pitzer was undefeated (11-0, 23-9 overall) in conference play last year.
Sophomore goalkeeper Wesley Hertel had five saves in the 11-6 loss, but took positives out of competing closely with the highly-ranked Pomona-Pitzer team.
“We are going to take this loss, come together and use it to take on the conference this season because we know we can play with these kinds of teams,” Hertel said.
Chapman took an early first quarter lead in the first minute, courtesy of a goal from junior utility Kevin Dayan. A minute later, senior utility Bennett Royce fired a strike.
Chapman tied the score twice in the second quarter behind two of Dayan’s goals, ending the first half with Pomona leading 6-5.
Chapman’s standout player was Brazilian-born Dayan, who scored four of the team’s six goals. Dayan, a two-year Orange Coast College Coast transfer has taken charge in his first season as a Panther, heading into the game by leading the team in points per game (30), shooting percentage (.452) and steals (16).
“It feels great that I did well, but I’d rather win,” Dayan said.
Dayan said he is enjoying the transition to Division III competition.
“Division III is a little more competitive,” Dayan said. “You need to work extra hard, and at the end of the day I like being a Panther more than a Pirate.”
Dayan will get the opportunity to face off against his former team Oct. 28.
Starting this season, the conference has shifted to a four-game playoff system in tandem with a 16-game conference schedule, as opposed to the old system it had, in which every team made the playoffs. Head coach Eric Ploessel said the team will have to tighten up offensively to reach the playoffs.
“Our goal is to make the top four,” Ploessel said. “You never know how the dice will roll when you have four playoff slots with nine teams. (Pomona) has an overall talented team that takes advantage of your mistakes. We had bad shots and turnovers, which cost us and hurt us.”
Chapman’s next home game will be against the University of La Verne at 7 p.m. Sept. 20.