Photo: Brian Loo
PASADENA (Oct. 15, 2019) – It took exactly one month since its last victory but everything came together for the Caltech men's water polo team against Washington & Jefferson College on Monday night. The Beavers defeated the Presidents, 13-11, in a tightly contested non-conference game that featured a little bit of everything.
"This game was a great benchmark mark to see how far we've come," Head Coach Jon Bonafede said. "It really took a full team effort to get the job done tonight. Everybody played a role in the field and both goalies made saves in key spots. We can be a lot of fun to watch when things are working for us and clicking."
The game took on the form of a shootout before both defenses began to settle down over the final three periods, which ultimately played into the hands of the Beavers. Junior Neil Sanderson (Laguna Beach, Calif. / Winchester) and sophomore Alex Wang (Saratoga, Calif. / The Harker School) dominated the first period for Caltech with two goals apiece, establishing additional scoring threats around junior center Steven Csaposs (Davis, Calif. / Davis) in the early going. By the end of the second quarter, the home team took advantage of a late powerplay when sophomore Austin Harvard (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) beat the buzzer thanks to a pass from junior Nick Clausen (Clovis, Calif. / Clovis East) to give his team a narrow 9-8 edge heading into halftime.
The Beavers went on to outscore the Presidents, 6-2, in the middle periods thanks to some key saves and incredible effort plays in the field. Goalies Bradley Justice (El Cajon, Calif. / Grossmont) and Wei Foo (Hacienda Heights, Calif. / Troy) split time and each made three saves to keep Caltech afloat. Harvard perhaps had the play of the game when he snagged a steal in the opposing zone and took the ball all the way for his team's final goal of the game two-and-a-half minutes into the last frame.
The Presidents showed some late-game resiliency, however, scoring the game's final three goals before eventually running out of time as the Caltech defense began to tighten. The Bonafede-coached Beavers made a shrewd play after Washington & Jefferson's final goal, milking the clock before making a perfect dump to give the opponents limited time to work with coming out of the timeout. Sanderson's three goals led the team, while Wang, Harvard, freshman Matthew Hajjar (San Jose, Calif. / The Harker School) and Csaposs each had two goals with Csaposs also coming through with three assists and four steals. Freshman James Bowden (Los Angeles, Calif. / Granada Hills Charter) and junior Rahul Arun (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Adlai E Stevenson) also scored for the Beavers with Arun also tacking on a trio of assists.
"More important than what was indicated on the scoreboard was the fact that we had control of the game even when we weren't winning," Bonafede said. "It was great to see my young team look so mature in the pool, especially being down a player like [Alex] Janosi which put a huge wrench in our gameplan. It was amazing to see our guys respond and step up. I'm excited for what's to come."
Bonafede and the Beavers will look to keep the momentum rolling when they host the University of La Verne on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.