After being in the hunt for a championship the entire season, the men’s water polo team finished in third place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Leopards sealed the regular season in victorious fashion with an 8-7 victory on Sunday over Pomona-Pitzer.
Sophomore Andrew McPartland, who has been the catalyst for the team the whole season, fittingly scored the winning goal with just less than three minutes remaining in the game.
La Verne did not have a single lead during the game, but still managed to earn the victory.
Sophomore Seth Shelton scored two goals on the game including one that came on a penalty shot.
The Sagehens had reason to feel confident as they had a 5-3 lead heading
“Our defense played really well,” said senior driver Jared Carvito.
“Our goalie played a really good game,” he added.
Goalie Steve Straiger displayed an impressive performance especially in the second half when it mattered most. He had seven saves in the game including four in the final quarter.
“We really stepped up in the second quarter,” Carvito said. “We played well as a team.”
The Leopards were not fortunate enough to have as much success the day before against Whittier in the second round of the SCIAC Championships, losing, 14-8, to the Poets.
The Leopards came out strong in the beginning, scoring early and taking an early 2-1 lead, but the Poets put them in a choke hold and never let go as they went into halftime with a 9-3 lead.
The Poets, regarded as one of the top teams in the nation, eventually lost to Redlands in a tight 7-6 championship battle.
Prior to their game with Whittier, the Leopards dominated in an 11-5 victory over Occidental in the first round of the SCIAC Championships.
“We had a good year,” junior driver Justin Haas said. “I was really pleased with our team’s effort this season.
“We have a lot of young talent on this team,” he added.
The Leopards, a team full of youthful potential will only be losing one senior after this season in captain Carvito.
“This season has been a whole lot of fun,” Carvito said. “We’re a young team and these guys are going to have a really bright future.
“Playing water polo for La Verne is something I will always remember,” he added.
Due to the youthful talent that the Leopards displayed, recruiting should not be something head coach Tim Hugar will be stressing out about during the off-season.
“We’re really looking forward to next season,” Haas said.
The Leopards hope to contend for the championship next year as they will return the nucleus of the team in McPartland, Shelton and Straiger.
Adrian Medrano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.