The University of Redlands men's water polo team squared off against the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in the first of two matches on Saturday at the Thompson Aquatic Center. Amidst a hard-nosed battle between two talented Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foes, the Bulldogs came up short in a tight 4-6 decision.
With incredible defense on both ends of the pool, every shot came at a premium, as the Stags mustered the only two scores in the first frame. Bulldog sophomore goalkeeper Chris Martinez (Santa Ana, CA) provided huge stops between the posts, leading towards his 17-save effort in the game.
As multiple shots clanked off the crossbar or flew just high, the score remained low throughout the contest.
Trailing 0-3 at the three-minute mark of the second stanza, Redlands jumped on the board with a lucrative connection between senior attacker Ty Williams (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) on the assist and senior center Billy Clifford (Redlands, CA) for the goal.
However, CMS answered with another netter to send the Bulldogs into halftime with a 1-3 deficit.
The teams continued to battle in an intense display of grit and effort in the third quarter. The Stags extended their lead again but the Maroon and Gray refused to go away. The Bulldogs took advantage of a power play with 4:36 remaining when sophomore attacker Chris Frejlach (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) sent the ball to junior attacker Carter Kerwin (Bakersfield, CA), who found just enough of an angle to hit the back of the net.
But CMS responded yet again to close out the third quarter with a 6-2 lead.
Regardless, Redlands scored twice more, as first-year attacker Tor Cole (Malibu, CA) and junior utility player Kyle Jackson (Naperville, IL) converted goals late in the fourth. Sophomore utility player Jasen Swan (Glendora, CA) provided the inside pass to Jackson on the successful power play with 55 seconds remaining.
Nonetheless, the late-game surge was not enough, as the Bulldogs suffered a hard-fought, 4-6 loss.
Redlands' defense stopped all nine of CMS' power plays on the day, thanks in part to Martinez's massive saves in the cage. In addition, senior attacker Grant Curry (San Diego, CA) and senior center-defender Ilan Dayan (Sao Paulo Brazil) provided well-timed field blocks, while Martinez and Dayan combined for seven steals.
The Bulldogs (3-8, 1-1 SCIAC) face a quick turnaround with another match later today at the Thompson Aquatic Center. Redlands faces Cal Baptist University in non-conference action at 7 p.m.