By: Nduati Macharia
Photography By: Ariel Chen
The UCI Men’s Water Polo team (7-13, 0-4) beat Concordia University (9-16, 3-4) at the Anteater Aquatics Complex on Wednesday Nov. 13. The final score was 16-5, with UCI defeating their inner-city rivals for the second time this season.
The Anteaters came out explosive in the first quarter, by exploiting the zone that Concordia employed. UCI scored the first two goals of the game by the four minute mark after a scored penalty shot by junior Casey Lynton and goal by senior Jon Polos.
“Offensively, in a zone, it allows our outside shooters to perform,” freshman Harrison Land said. “Casey had a hat trick in the first quarter. That gives us an opportunity to pick them apart.”
The Concordia Eagles would score at the three minute mark. However, a quick rebuttal by senior Foster Hoose made sure the opening moments of the game were firmly gripped by the ‘Eaters. From that point forward, four more goals would be scored by the Anteaters. The first quarter ended with a 7-1 advantage for UCI.
“Offensively, we try to make sure that we all get down on the two meter line,” Lynton said. “We tried to focus a lot on movement, hard driving up and down. Our centers did a good job getting into position so we were able to get into them a couple times.”
By scoring three straight goals to open the second quarter, the Eagles did not let the Anteaters get comfortable. They raised the defensive intensity, only allowing UCI one goal the whole period, which was made by junior Jason Evezard. The second quarter closed with an 8-4 advantage, with the Anteaters leading the game.
Yet, the ‘Eaters defense was absolutely gripping since they employed a zone in the first half. Their main goals were to ice the Concordia star center and senior Messan Moore out as well as double junior Marsius Jakimcikas, a player that scored six goals on nine shots in a previous game against the Anteaters. It proved to be a successful attempt as the Eagles only made 28% of their goals in the first half. This is in contrast to the ‘Eaters who found the net 44% of the time.
“Last time we played them, Jakimcikas killed us on the 1-2 side, so most of our defense was focused on pressuring him and helping over,” Lynton said.
Ultimately, the ‘Eaters’ suffocating defense, buoyed by a sound game plan, was what led them to their victory.
Led by Lynton, who had four steals in total, and Land, who had nine saves for the game, the home team raised their defensive tenacity. They made their stamp in the third quarter, signaling the end of the game by shutting out the visitors. In total, they scored five times en route to a 13-4 advantage and cruise to a 16-5 victory over Concordia University.
“We’ve had some good momentum the last couple games, so if we could just carry that over into Saturday’s game and into the GCC tournament, that’s all we can ask for,” Land said. “We need to bring the energy. If we come out flat, we’ll be in a vulnerable position, but if we come out and put the pedal to the metal from the start, then we can get up on some teams.”
UCI looks to carry said momentum and energy into their next game versus No. 8 Long Beach State on Saturday, Nov. 16.