Polo makes splash in SCIAC
The men’s water polo team (11-13, 4-1) beat its SCIAC rivals La Verne (2-20, 0-4) Wednesday 10-8 and Redlands (3-18, 1-3) Saturday 12-10. The Panthers have climbed to third place in SCIAC.
Chapman is having a turnaround from the first half of the season, Saturday’s victory over the Bulldogs was its fifth win in a row, and eighth in the last nine games.
“We had a tough start, but we are playing really well in SCIAC play,” said Head Coach Eric Ploessel.
Against Redlands, the Panthers jumped out to an early 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter on goals by junior driver James Vigeant, junior utility Kyle Toriano and freshman utility Willis Allen.
The Bulldogs outscored the Panthers 5-2 and capitalized on seven Chapman turnovers in the second quarter.
“Redlands is a well-coached team, and its strength is taking advantage of other teams’ mistakes,” Ploessel said.
However, Chapman made a comeback in the third quarter. The Panthers built up a two-point lead by goals from Allen and sophomore driver Mark Alvarado.
The third quarter would prove to be the difference, as Chapman and Redlands would trade goals in the fourth, allowing Chapman to hang on to its slim two point lead. Junior utility Brett Carter added two goals and junior driver Jack Cutler added one goal to stave off the Bulldogs.
The victories over La Verne and Redlands were both the second for Chapman this year, and just the second time ever that Chapman has beaten Redlands.
“They were a lot more intense this time,” Ploessel said. “Anybody can beat anybody in the SCIAC. They knew this was the game that really mattered.”
La Verne jumped ahead early, but the Panthers and the Leopards traded punches during the first half, heading into halftime tied 5-5.
“We started off slow, our offense was not clicking and La Verne caught us off guard,” said senior goalie Taylor Roszkos.
Toriano began the scoring for the Panthers and Carter scored twice in the first quarter. Vigeant stole the show, scoring five goals on the day.
“He was on fire,” Ploessel said. “He really stepped up when we needed him to.”
At the end of the first quarter, Roszkos had two quick saves on fast breaks to help fight off La Verne. Roszkos finished the day with six saves.
“They scored off our mistakes,” Carter said. “But we played much better defense in the second half.”
Chapman pulled away from La Verne with a 4-2 third quarter with three goals by Vigeant and one by Toriano. Carter added a goal during the final period to finalize the score, 10-8.
“We had a rotation with more defensive oriented players in the second half,” Ploessel said.
Chapman will play another SCIAC game at Occidental Wednesday before matchups with Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier to close out the season. The Panthers will chase first place Whittier in a last second effort to finish in the SCIAC’s top three teams and make post-season play.