THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.— The No. 5 Cal Lutheran men's water polo team hung with the No. 1 team in the nation, but the Whittier Poets outlasted the Kingsmen 11-8 on Saturday afternoon.
In back-to-back contests, CLU has faced the No. 1 and 2 teams in the nations and kept each game close. Losing by just two and three points, Cal Lutheran (11-9) showed it can compete with the top teams in the SCIAC.
The loss drops the Kingsmen to 4-5 in conference play as they remain just outside the playoffs, in the fifth spot. Redlands also lost today, making them 4-4 and in the fourth spot, which Cal Lutheran plays next.
The defenses set the tone early as only two goals were allowed, one from each team, during the first six minutes. Justin Krause scored the opening goal for Cal Lutheran and goalkeeper Andre Rivas came up with three early saves. The Kingsmen had the final say of the quarter as Cole Weiderman scored with 20 seconds left and the defense did not allow Whittier a shot at the buzzer.
At the start of the second quarter, Cal Lutheran had its chances to extend the lead, but it was Whitter that drew first blood and tied the game at two. The Kingsmen were quick to answer as Tanner Kaplan found Parker Jory for the score and CLU went back ahead, 3-2, with 5:15 left in the second. Over the next few plays, the Kingsmen saw their lead disappear as the Poets scored three goals and took a 5-3 lead with 1:48 left in the half. Whittier added two more goals down the stretch and had a 7-3 lead at the break.
Whittier continued to increase its lead in the third quarter, scoring the first goal. Cal Lutheran responded as Kaplan scored his first goal and cut the lead in half at 8-4. CLU added two goals from Ben Brown over the final 4:30, however, the No. 1 team held the lead and was up 9-6 heading to the fourth. The Kingsmen battled hard, but could not make the comeback in the fourth as the Poets won the game 11-8.
Brown and Weiderman led the way with two goals each while Kaplan and Brown dished out two assists. The defense put up a good fight as Rivas tallied 16 saves and Kaplan had a team-high three steals.
Up next for Cal Lutheran is Redlands. The Kingsmen look to bounce back as they travel to face the Bulldogs on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Box Score: WC 11, CLU 8
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director