Bulldog Men's Water Polo Gains Experience in Tough Tournament
Ranked third in NCAA Division III, the University of Redlands men's water polo team embarked upon the 2012 season with a challenging trio of matches at Saturday's opening tournament. The Bulldogs dropped all three contests at the UC Irvine Invitational, with two of those coming against top-notch NCAA Division I programs.
The Maroon and Gray jumped into action against No. 9 Long Beach State University at the Anteater Aquatics Complex. The Bulldogs trailed by three goals after the first period and then struggled to shut down the prolific 49er offense, leading to the 5-17 defeat.
Sophomore transfer Michael Robinson (Corona, CA) impressed in his Redlands debut, notching the only multi-goal effort with two scores. Junior goalkeeper Tyler Abbott (Alta Loma, CA) patrolled the net for the Bulldogs by making nine saves.
During the team's second outing, it stepped up its offense against the sixth-ranked host school but came out on the losing end of an 18-7 final. Junior driver Clint Freeman (Brentwood, CA) offered a team-high, three goals, while Robinson continued to find the back of the net with a pair of scores. Abbott provided 10 stops for the Maroon and Gray.
In Redlands' final game of the tournament against Chapman University, the Bulldogs recovered from an early two-goal deficit by rallying to tie it up at four apiece midway through the second stanza. During this stretch, Redlands relied a well-balanced attack that included four different players. However, the NCAA Division III's sixth-ranked team fired off a pair of netters late in the frame to go up, 6-4. Despite Freeman's netter just 10 seconds later, the Bulldogs never made up the difference and eventually fell by a 9-11 decision.
Freeman once again led Redlands with three goals and junior center Grant Harrington (Poway, CA) chipped in two scores. Abbott came up with six saves in the loss.
Redlands (0-3) looks forward to hosting the Inland Empire Classic on Saturday and Sunday, beginning with a 9 a.m. match against the Air Force Academy at the Thompson Aquatic Center.