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Beavers Close Out Tourney With Win Over RCC

Beavers Close Out Tourney With Win Over RCC

LA VERNE, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2022) The Caltech men's water polo team competed in the Inland Empire Classic, playing three games over the course of the weekend versus Westcliff University, Biola University and Riverside City College. 

The Beavers opened the tournament Saturday morning against one of the strongest NAIA programs in the country, the Westcliff University Warriors of Irvine. While the Beavers fell to the Warriors, they were led offensively in the morning by the outstanding efforts of senior Max Bricken (Portland, Ore. / Westview) and first year Bram Schork (Villanova, Pa. / The Haverford School). Bricken potted six of the eight shots he took in the game, while Schork netted three goals on seven shots. Sophomore Sean Zheng (San Marino, Calif. / Polytechnic School) led the Beavers with three assists. Defensively, Caltech was buoyed by the efforts of graduate student Andrew Graven (Redondo Beach, Calif. / Cornell University) and Zheng who each had two steals. 

With one minute remaining in the first quarter, Bricken put the Beavers on the board on a goal assisted by Zheng, who then went on to win the second quarter sprint as the Beavers fought to stay in the contest. Looking to carve into an early deficit, Schork netted a goal at 7:01 of the second quarter, getting the Beavers back within seven of the Warriors. The Beavers fought to regain possession in the quarter when Bricken beat the goalie at 4:45 on a power play and then later scored at 2:23, followed closely by a goal from Matthew Hajjar (San Jose, Calif. / The Harker School) at 1:50 of the second. 

The Beavers worked hard in periods three and four to climb back into the contest, but the strength and depth of Westcliff's roster allowed them to maintain their lead and the eventual win. For the contest, the Beavers shot .417, scoring 10 goals on 24 shots. 

Game 2 on Saturday saw the Beavers facing the Eagles of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola). The Caltech attack was led by Bricken and Hajjar with three goals each, while first-year Schork added another. Combined, the three players took 20 shots in the game. Defensively, senior goalkeeper Wei Foo (Hacienda Heights, Calif. / Troy) made nine saves in the contest. 

When Hajjar scored first for the Beavers at 5:42 in the opening period, he knotted the game at 1-1. But it was Biola who went on to score several unanswered goals. But when Bricken scored with :13 remaining in the second period, the Beavers were within 5-8 and a chance at a second half rally seemed viable. But it was the Eagles who flew higher in the second half, as the Beavers came up short on the scoreboard. 

Game three for the Beavers at the Inland Empire Classic saw them face the Tigers of Riverside City College on Sunday morning. What started as a low-scoring affair, with the first goal coming on a five-meter penalty shot by Bricken at 5:49 of the first period, saw the teams swim to their bench areas tied at 2 at the end of the opening frame. Scoring didn't pick up pace much in the second, as defense led the day for both sides. In fact, Foo, and the Beavers defense, shut out the Tigers in the second period, while scoring three goals of their own, the last coming on a goal by senior James Bowden (Los Angeles, Calif. / Granada Hills Charter) making it 5-2 Caltech with 2:25 remaining in the first half, a lead the Beavers would carry into the intermission. 

The second half saw the pace and offensive urgency quicken as RCC made waves to get back in the contest. The Beavers were able to hold off the Tigers, never letting them get closer than two goals at 8-6, as the Beavers closed out the contest and the tournament with an 11-8 victory. Offensively, four Beavers scored two goals or more, with Bricken's four leading the way. In a great sign of a well distributed offensive effort, five Beavers had two or more shots on goal, a trend that Head Coach Jon Bonafede would like to see more frequently. Foo's 13 saves and .619 save percentage were also welcomed game stats.  

The men's water polo program will be back in action when they take on the Panthers of Chaffey College in Braun Pool on Tuesday afternoon, September 13 at 3:00 PM PDT. To follow the season via live stream, live stats or program updates, please visit www.gocaltech.com.