Men’s water polo splits games against Caltech and La Verne

The Chapman men’s water polo team had its first home win of the season in a comeback 14-6 win Wednesday, Oct. 19 against the California Institute of Technology. On Saturday, the Panthers traveled to the University of La Verne where they lost 10-9.  

Wednesday’s game began in Caltech’s favor as it jumped to a quick 2-0 lead. But the Panthers responded quickly by taking a 4-2 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Head coach Eric Ploessel attributed the team’s rough start to sitting many players during the game, as he said that several players have been injured or sick.

“I don’t think we started very well. We were down 2-0 at first,” Ploessel said. “We’re sitting a lot of guys today. The whole season, we just have been dealing with a lot of injuries.”

Despite the injuries, Chapman went on to score an additional three goals by the second quarter, placing the team up 7-3. One of the scorers was freshman driver Cameron Genetti, who scored two goals in the first half.  

“It feels pretty good,” Gennetti said. “It’s my first year and we haven’t really had a big win yet, so it feels good to get our first win.”

In the third quarter, the Panthers were able to jump out to a larger lead of 9-3 due to goals from junior utility player Louis Campbell and sophomore two-meter defender Michael Garcia. Both Campbell and Garcia scored three goals during the game.

“It felt amazing,” Campbell said. “I’m a junior here and I haven’t gotten much playing time throughout my three years here, so it felt good to finally go out there and get some goals.”

The last quarter finished with the Panthers scoring an additional five goals, while Caltech managed to score three more.

Ploessel said that the team is just trying to take it day by day to make up for the number of injuries it has had this season.

“Hopefully we just start to get healthy and get consistency at practice right now—that’s what we’re trying to get to right now,” Ploessel said.

On Saturday, Chapman set the pace of the game by using quick ball movement to break down La Verne’s defense, although ultimately losing 10-9 to the Leopards.

Ploessel attributed the loss to the team’s defense.

“It was the defense really, and controlling the ball,” he said. “We got a lot of turnovers in the second that were really killing us… We had to make open opportunities instead of trying to force shots.”

The Panthers intensity drew multiple minor fouls resulting in early goals for Chapman. A high-energy first quarter allowed only one Leopard goal by freshman driver Guillermo Ocasio, closing out the quarter leading 4-1.

The Leopards started out the second quarter with several shot attempts and multiple defensive stops. In the first minute, La Verne freshman two-meter defender Rex Sample fired a shot from just outside of the 5 meter into the bottom left. Chapman goalkeeper Ivan Shikhelman got a hand on the ball but failed to keep it from floating just inside of the goal line.

Following La Verne’s initial goal in the second, minor fouls and offensive momentum plagued the Panthers’ defense. Two more unanswered Leopard goals gave Chapman no option but to call a timeout and adjust to La Verne’s strategies.

Coming out of the timeout, the Panthers struggled with shot clock pressure which forced several missed shots at goal, including a penalty shot that bounced just over the top goal post.

After three unanswered Chapman goals, La Verne surprised the Panther defense by scoring off of a quick transition, tying the game up once again to end the quarter. Going into the third quarter, the Panthers were forced to make a change to stay in the game.

Chapman began the fourth quarter with high intensity as junior center Jeff O’Brien scored again to take the lead.

“We just tried to go back to what we did in the first quarter and get the intensity back, stop the laziness and work harder every play,” O’Brien said.

La Verne had several early fouls that ate up the clock.

Possessions failed on both ends for several minutes before an uncontested La Verne shot tied the game at 9-9 and then followed up with the game-winner with 45 seconds remaining.

“For about two weeks we’ve been trying to work on our defense, just position, that’s what defense is, being in good position,” Ploessel said. “And we did really well in the first quarter … It was probably our best defensive game, we gave up a lot of goals, but I think we are starting to improve a little bit too. We played pretty well overall.”

The Panthers will be heading to Occidental College on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. to take on the Tigers.

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