The University of Redlands men's water polo team hosted a pair of non-conference matches on Thursday and earned back-to-back wins over Fordham University (NY) and McKendree University (IL). In the opener, the Bulldogs captured an early lead and then relied on stellar defense to stay in front for a 5-4 decision. During the evening tilt, the Maroon and Gray stormed out to a 5-1 lead and never looked back en route to the 17-8 victory.
Against Fordham, senior attacker Grant Curry (San Diego, CA) dished out a pass to junior center Cooper Krause (Denver, CO), who found the right angle to toss the ball into the back of the net for the Maroon and Gray's early 1-0 lead.
Redlands minimized Fordham's attack with some incredible field blocks throughout the first frame, as the visitors only scored once in eight minutes of action.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-1 by the 4:43-mark of the second quarter. First, junior utility player Kyle Jackson (Naperville, IL) fed a sweet ball into the middle for senior center Billy Clifford (Redlands, CA) to fire past the Fordham goalkeeper with 2:43 remaining in the opening quarter. A few minutes later, Redlands gained a quality connection off junior attacker Spencer Allen's (Seal Beach, CA) assist and junior attacker Tyler Strabel's (Canyon Lake, CA) goal.
Although Fordham converted on a power-play in the second stanza, the Maroon and Gray entered halftime with a slight, 3-2 lead.
During the final two quarters, the game remained tight as the teams finished with an equal offensive output of two goals apiece. Early in the third, Curry and Krause combined for a lucrative combination but the remainder of the period was scoreless for both teams.
Curry produced a goal of his own to break through for the eventual game-winner with 6:42 left in the contest.
Although Fordham found the back of the net twice in the final five minutes, Redlands stayed in front for the hard-fought win.
Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Martinez (Santa Ana, CA) played an integral role in the Bulldogs' defensive success by making 12 saves in a complete-game showing.
During the second match of the day, the Maroon and Gray jumped out to an early 4-0 lead off scores by four different players. Amidst the highlights, Curry offered an assist and a goal.
After McKendree answered with one goal, the Bulldogs saw Krause convert a netter off junior attacker Carter Kerwin's (Bakersfield, CA) pass to make it 5-1.
Early in the second quarter, Jackson and senior attacker Ty Williams (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) combined forces for back-to-back scores while trading roles in a 60-second span.
Although the Bearcats managed to cut it to three late in the second quarter, Redlands entered the third quarter with a newfound sense of urgency. With four different players finding the back of the net, the Bulldogs showed off their efficient and versatile offense. Three of these netters came off a power play.
With a comfortable lead, Redlands switched out Martinez for first-year goalkeeper Jason Gates (San Jose, CA). After Martinez's nine-save effort, Gates recorded three stops while giving up only one goal in the final eight minutes.
Redlands (7-10) heads to Claremont for the Gary Troyer Tournament on Saturday, October 6, for two matches. The Bulldogs take on Iona College (NY) at 1 p.m. and then square off against Johns Hopkins University (MD) at 5 p.m.