Junior Seth Shelton fights for the ball in the third quarter against Alex Mule of Chapman University. The Leopards won both games Saturday, defeating Chapman, 12-9, and Cal Lutheran, 16-12. La Verne finished the Inland Empire Classic with a 3-1 record by also defeating Penn State-Behrend, 19-6, and losing to UC Santa Barbara, 16-5, on Sunday.
The men’s water polo team put on quite a show last weekend at the Inland Empire Classic held in La Verne winning three of their four games.
The Leopards’ only loss came to Division I powerhouse UC Santa Barbara, 16-5, in their third game.
Head coach Tim Hugar downplayed the loss.
“They are a Division I school that plays year-round,” Hugar said. “They’re ranked No. 10 in the nation, so we were playing against one of the best teams in the country.”
“We knew we were going up against a tough team coached by an ex-Olympian and we just didn’t play our best,” junior utility Seth Shelton said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from that one.”
ULV ended day one of the tournament on Saturday having defeated Chapman, 12-9, and Cal Lutheran, 16-2.
They suffered their only loss on Sunday against UCSB and were able to bounce back hours later to finish the tournament strong with a commanding 19-6 victory over Penn State-Behrend.
Andrew McPartland, a junior utility, finished the tournament with a team-high 13 goals, including six against Cal Lutheran.
Fellow junior Duncan Cox also had a six goal game in the victory over Penn State-Behrend, finishing with nine overall.
The team appears strong after completing the tournament with a record of 3-1, including victories over Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Cal Lutheran.
“We have a lot to work on,” Coach Hugar said. “We’ve only been practicing for a week so we’re just getting started.”
“Right now we haven’t played solid for a whole game, but there’s been parts of games we excelled at,” Cox said. “Right now our offense is disorganized. What’s really hurting us right now is the offensive side.”
“It lets us know that while we still have a lot of work to put in we have a good shot of contending for the SCIAC championship and the Division III championship,” McPartland said.
With the conference schedule coming up after the East-West Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., this weekend, the entire SCIAC conference is looking at the Redlands Bulldogs as the team to beat.
“Redlands won SCIAC last year and were the Division III champs the year before,” McPartland said. “They’re going to be the team everyone’s gunning for. If we beat Redlands that will be a huge boost.”
Shelton expects this Leopards team to do well this season, especially after their successful weekend.
“We all feel confident in our ability to win SCIAC,” Shelton said. “We’re not setting our standards too high in wanting to win SCIAC and a national championship.”
Fans can see how it plays out for themselves when the Leopards play their first non-tournament game September 23 in La Verne following the East-West Tournament September 16-17.
Kevin Zeni can be reached at email@example.com.