The University of Redlands men's water polo team took on a challenging slate during Sunday's action of the Inland Empire Classic under sunny skies at the Thompson Aquatic Center. The team put up aggressive numbers against NCAA Division I foes, No. 8 Pepperdine University and No. 2 University of Southern California, but came up on the losing end of both contests. The nightcap versus NCAA Division II opponent Concordia University-Irvine provided plenty of excitement to cap off the busy weekend, as the Bulldogs pushed the Eagles to overtime before falling short in a tight 12-13 decision.
The Bulldogs squared off against the Pepperdine Waves in the opening contest of the day. Unfortunately for the home team, the Waves jumped out to an early lead and stayed in front in the 9-6 result. Sophomore attack player Spencer Allen (Long Beach, CA) put Redlands on the board before sophomore attack player Carter Kerwin (Bakersfield, CA) closed out the frame with a late Bulldog score. But Pepperdine managed four goals by the end of that period to create a lead that stood up through the final whistle.
Freshman goalkeeper Chris Martinez (Santa Ana, CA) patrolled the Redlands cage with 10 saves in a valiant effort.
The Bulldogs battled against USC, but the Trojans' high-powered offense was difficult to match, ultimately resulting in a tough 5-16 loss for the Maroon and Gray. Two rookie Bulldogs put up goals in the loss, with utility player Jasen Swan (Glendora, CA) and attack player Aaron White (San Jose, CA) each notching a netter. In addition, sophomore utility player Kyle Jackson (Naperville, IL), junior attack player Ty Williams (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), and junior attack player Aki Andersen (Laguna Beach, CA) tossed in one score apiece.
Against Concordia, Redlands battled back from a four-goal deficit in the first period to eventually tie it up in the fourth to force overtime. The Bulldogs put together a lucrative second half that included a 7-3 scoring advantage over the Eagles. The Maroon and Gray looked to junior utility player Mitchell Walker (Taylorsville, UT) to get things started right out of the gates before Williams and junior center Billy Clifford (Redlands, CA) combined for a three-goal spurt in the latter part of the third quarter. Senior utility player Max Taylor (Henderson, NV) and junior attack player Grant Curry (San Diego, CA) combined offensive forces late in the game to knot the score at 12 apiece. However, Concordia answered first by notching the game-winner in the second extra period.
Martinez put up 15 saves in an incredible extended-game effort. He also tallied three steals.
Redlands (1-5) heads to the Aggie Round Up at UC Davis on Saturday, September 16, and Sunday, September 17. The Bulldogs look to avenge one of today's losses with a rematch against Pepperdine at 12 noon on Saturday.