LA VERNE, Calif. (Sept. 14, 2019) – The Caltech men's water polo team won its first game at the University of La Verne-hosted Inland Empire Classic on Saturday and became the fastest team in program history to five wins.
Caltech 9, Riverside C.C. 8
After finding the back of the net three times at Chaffey College earlier in the week freshman Matthew Hajjar (San Jose, Calif. / The Harker School) delivered a repeat performance against Riverside Community College in the first of Saturday's two-match slate. This time, Hajjar made two of the most important plays of the game to polish off the win. The rookie first sent a pass from classmate James Bowden (Los Angeles, Calif. / Granada Hills Charter) past the opposing keeper to put the Beavers on top, 9-8, and later followed up with the game-sealing steal on Riverside's final posession in regulation.
Caltech's attention to detail on defense paid dividends. Junior Rahul Arun (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Adlai E Stevenson) led the Beavers' field players with five steals and senior goalkeeper Bradley Justice
(El Cajon, Calif. / Grossmont) went the distance for the first time in 2019 and got the win thanks to six saves and six steals.
"We relied on everyone to help carry the team and do their part," Head Coach Jon Bonafede said. "The idea was to maintain a strong defensive pace throughout all four quarters and it definitely paid off."
The Beavers' team dynamic was in full effect in the first game on Saturday. Caltech assisted on every goal for the first time this season with Arun leading the way with four assists. Juniors Steven Csaposs (Davis, Calif. / Davis) and Alex Janosi (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Dexter) each did their part with two goals apiece while Bowden and junior John Wang (Louisville, Ky. / Phillips Exeter Academy) also scored for Caltech. Janosi made use of his speed by going a perfect 4-for-4 on sprints and contributing three steals of his own.
Ottawa 12, Caltech 7
The men's water polo team endured a physical battle with Arizona's Ottawa University in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. The Beavers opened up with four first-half goals to keep the game competitive but found themselves in an uphill climb once the fourth quarter came around. Csaposs came through with his second multi-goal performance of the day and freshman Max Bricken (Portland, Ore. / Westview) matched him with two goals of his own. Bowden, Janosi and Hajjar accounted for Caltech's remaining three goals.
Like the first game, the Beavers had some big defensive moments with six different players picking up steals. Justice once again started in net and garnered six saves.
Bonafede and the Beavers will make their home and SCIAC debut on Wednesday, Sept. 18 when they host California Lutheran Unviersity at 7 p.m.