Broncos compete against nation’s best at home
THE SANTA CLARA
October 31, 2013
After an action-packed weekend, the men’s water polo team walked away with four wins in five games at The Rodeo Tournament at the Sullivan Aquatic Center.
In the process, the Broncos picked up their first win in the Western Water Polo Association against California Baptist University. The Broncos are now 13-10 overall and ranked No. 14 in the nation.
“Every team we played this weekend was ranked in the top 20, so I knew we were going to play five games against strong competition,” said Head Coach Keith Wilbur. “(We knew) there (would be) no easy games, and that we would need to earn every win.”
Santa Clara opened the tournament on Thursday with a victory in double-overtime.
The first overtime period started with a penalty shot for the Broncos, which senior Tucker Carlson put in the back of the net. The Lancers came back at the very end of the period with a penalty shot of their own that resulted in a goal to tie the score again, pushing the game to a second overtime session.
In the second extra period, Carlson scored with under a minute left and teammate David Guibord scored another goal to put the game away by a final score of 10-8.
The Broncos faced their next opponent, Harvard University, early Saturday morning. The first half was tight but ended with a 7-5 advantage for the Broncos.
Santa Clara hung on to its lead and came out on top, 12-9.
Saturday’s early success didn’t slow down for Santa Clara when they faced Brown University later that afternoon.
Despite trailing at the half 6-3 and the third quarter by a score of 9-7, the Broncos turned it around in the final quarter.
Redshirt senior Jimmy Moore converted a penalty shot to bring the Broncos within one score. A goal by redshirt freshman Matt Godar evened the score for the first time in the game.
Freshman Graham McClone earned an ejection with just over 30 seconds left in the game. After a stoppage in play, one of Godar’s shots found the back of the cage to give the Broncos the lead and eventual victory, 10-9.
Goalie Matt Pritchett made crucial saves throughout to keep the Bears from running away with the game. He racked up 19 saves in total to aid in the victory. The redshirt junior collected a total of 78 saves in all five games combined.
“Our team defense was really solid, and that is something that makes my job easier as a goalie,” said Pritchett. “When we play well defensively as a team, that’s when we’re truly at our best.”
Sunday’s first game against Concordia University slipped away from the Broncos. It was their only loss of the tournament.
The Eagles led most of the game but started to pull away when they closed the first half with a 7-5 lead. They continued their run in the third and fourth quarters and ended up defeating Santa Clara, 12-6.
“We played hard, but we did not play smart,” said Wilbur. “I think we let our emotions get the better of us, and we made some mistakes that Concordia was able to capitalize on. In water polo, it is easy to get caught up in the physicality of the sport and to forget the strategy of the game.”
Santa Clara didn’t let the loss weigh them down going into the afternoon. The Broncos came back strong in their final game of the weekend against Bucknell University.
Santa Clara started fast and ended the first half leading 10-6.
Bucknell closed the gap in the third quarter, but the Broncos put them away in the final quarter and won 14-12.
“We definitely proved that we earned our ranking,” said Pritchett. “Battling to earn a hard-fought victory is always good, and it’s good to know that we are capable of winning those kinds of games. I think we are right where we want to be.”
The four wins put the Broncos in a good position going forward.
“We gained some really good momentum this weekend,” said Wilbur. “We would like to carry that into our conference matchups the next two weeks.”
The Broncos will have three consecutive road games starting on Nov 1. They will travel to Southern California and face the University of California, San Diego, Pomona-Pitzer College and Loyola Marymount University.
Contact Sydney Sanchez at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.