Sagehens Stave Off Kingsmen

CLU falls even in SCIAC despite strong second half

The senior duo of Dejan Novakovic and Carter Baldwin play defense in a man-down situation.

Photo: Tracy Maple

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.  – The Cal Lutheran men’s water polo team kicked off a three-game home stand with SCIAC action against Pomona-Pitzer today. Despite an eight goal second half, CLU fell 12-10, but recovered from a slow start to make things close in the end.

Teams exchanged goals in the first half with Max Zappas scoring on an assist from Nathan Ortega before PP equalized with 1:53 to play. Danny Mock came up with four big saves in the quarter.

The second stanza belonged to the Sagehens, but not due to lack of opportunities for Cal Lutheran. PP posted three goals while CLU mustered up just one from Dejan Novakovic with five seconds to play in the period. CLU trailed 5-2 at the break.

After the intermission AJ Franklin won the sprint to start the third, but the Kingsmen were unable to capitalize on the early possession. A pair of quick PP goals increased the deficit for the Kingsmen.

Just under the six minute mark, Carter Baldwin found the back of the net. CLU then drew an ejection and was able to convert the 6-on-5 situation into a goal by way of Spencer McGrath, which cut the Sagehens lead in half. A five meter shot by Novakovic skipped into the upper left corner of the cage for the fifth goal of the game for the home squad, making it 8-5.

Pomona-Pitzer responded with goals on their next three possessions, the final one coming on a shot that skimmed off a CLU defender to skip into the back of the net.

Ortega came back on the offensive end with a goal with just over a minute to go for the final scoring play of the third, leaving the Sagehens ahead at 11-6 entering the final frame.

Early in the fourth Franklin won a steal and though his lob shot caught the cross bar, Mike Potter was there to punch the ball into the net. Franklin then assisted Novakovic as CLU scored on the ensuing possession, pulling it to 11-8.

Things continued to go the right way for the Kingsmen who used another 6-on-5 for a goal. With 4:12 to play Baldwin found Hunter Hamaker in the center for the score. Then at the 2:26 mark Baldwin recovered a rebound off the cage and pulled the Kingsmen within one at 11-10.

Unfortunately, PP quickly added one for a two-goal advantage. Although CLU drew an ejection as they forced a shot clock violation with 28 seconds remaining, the Kingsmen were unable to find the back of the net on that man advantage.  

CLU produced 11 drawn ejections with Zappas tallying five and Baldwin earning three. Hamaker drew a pair as well.

Novakovic scored a team leading three goals while Baldwin added a pair. Both Franklin and Ortega finished with two assists.

Defensively Novakovic had four steals. Baldwin and Franklin each had two. Hamaker and Ortega each recorded a field block today. Mock played all four quarters in front of the cage, blocking 10 shots.

Cal Lutheran (9-9, 1-1 SCIAC) will be back in the pool on Saturday, Oct. 13 for a pair. In the morning the Kingsmen will face off with SCIAC foe Chapman at 11:00 a.m. before rounding out their day with a 4:00 p.m. showdown with the Connecticut College Camels.