The University of Redlands men's water polo team powered past the Whittier College Poets in an exciting, comeback win at the Thompson Aquatic Center on Saturday morning. The Bulldogs used a huge second half to not only hold the Poets scoreless but to fire off four goals and steal the 7-6 win in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action.
Early in the contest, the teams traded goals in a very tight defensive battle that resulted in a three-all tie by the 5:48-mark of the second quarter. For Redlands, senior center Billy Clifford (Redlands, CA) notched the first netter, while junior utility player Kyle Jackson (Naperville, IL) found the back of the net twice. All three of these goals came off quality assists, with senior attacker Ty Williams (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), and junior attackers Tyler Strabel (Canyon Lake, CA) and Cater Kerwin (Bakersfield, CA) each making a lucrative pass.
After the Poets broke the tie with three unanswered goals to close out the second quarter, the Bulldogs entered the halftime break with a 3-6 deficit staring them in the face.
Following the necessary adjustments and the motivation from Head Coach Tom Whittemore and his staff, the Maroon and Gray came out with a new sense of determination. Amidst physical and intense play, Redlands saw senior attacker Grant Curry (San Diego, CA) initiate its second-half surge with a goal at the 5:47-mark of the third to make it 4-6.
Defensive stops prevailed on both ends of the pools, as no one converted another score until midway through the fourth frame. With multiple offensive fouls called on the Poets, Redlands regained possession and took advantage of the opportunities. Junior attacker Spencer Allen (Seal Beach, CA) came up with a big goal to move Redlands within one.
On a quick counterattack, Curry found Clifford in the center, which allowed Clifford to sneak in the game-tying goal with three minutes remaining. Redlands' next possession came off a similar play, with Curry dishing out the assist to senior center-defender Ilan Dayan (Sao Paulo, Brazil) for the eventual game-winning goal.
The Bulldogs kept their composure to finish out the game with great defense en route to the exciting win. Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Martinez (Santa Ana, CA) finished the day with 11 saves, including a few incredible, close-range stops. Allen and Curry each nabbed two steals in the win.
Redlands (10-11, 4-2 SCIAC) heads to Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, October 16, for a 4 p.m. showdown against the Cal Lutheran University Kingsmen.