A big second half completed a 10-9, comeback victory for the University of Redlands men's water polo team over the University of La Verne in a physical and intense Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) match on Saturday. After trailing by two at halftime, the Bulldogs rattled off five-straight goals in the third to take the lead en route to the important road win.
Back-and-forth play ensued early in the game, with the Leopards getting on the scoreboard first. Senior center Ilan Dayan (Sao Paulo, Brazil) scored off a feed from sophomore attacker Chris Frejlach (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) less than 30 seconds later to even the score. The teams traded goals again, with junior utility player Kyle Jackson (Naperville, IL) finding the back of the net as time expired for a tight 2-2 draw after one.
Redlands scored first in the second quarter when senior attacker Grant Curry (San Diego, CA) converted a penalty shot that resulted from junior center Cooper Krause (Denver, CO) drawing a critical exclusion.
However, La Verne scored three consecutive goals, including two on power-plays, to carry a 5-3 advantage into halftime.
The Leopards extended the lead with an opening score in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs initiated their comeback with a goal from junior attacker Spencer Allen (Seal Beach, CA) on the ensuing possession. With another score from Curry at the 6:21-mark, the Maroon and Gray cut the deficit to just one. After an Allen steal, junior attacker Carter Kerwin (Bakersfield, CA) nearly tied the match, but his promising shot hit the post.
Nonetheless, with 4:42 left in the third, Jackson notched a goal to even the score at six-all. Soon after, the comeback was in full effect when Kerwin fired one past the Leopard goalkeeper to give the Bulldogs their first lead since early in the second quarter.
With a one-goal advantage heading into the final quarter, the Maroon and Gray rode its momentum with a tally from Krause to make it 8-6. Despite a goal from La Verne on a power-play, senior center Billy Clifford (Redlands, CA) recorded his first goal of the game to extend the lead to 9-7.
The Bulldogs looked to Allen to notch another insurance goal with 2:40 to go, which became necessary in fending off the Leopards' late-game push. Although La Verne scored twice in the final minutes, Redlands remained in front for the exciting win.
It was a combined effort from the Maroon and Gray defense, as Curry and sophomore goalkeeper Chris Martinez (Santa Ana, CA) registered three steals each. Allen also had a huge game on both ends with two goals, one assist, and two steals.
Redlands (11-12, 5-3 SCIAC) makes the short trek to face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Wednesday, October 24, at 7 p.m.