Image Credit: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The University of Redlands Men's Water Polo team opened up the USA Water Polo Division III Collegiate National Championships Saturday with an 18-6 win over No. 2 Johns Hopkins University, which means the Bulldogs will now play for a National Championship tomorrow, Sunday, December 4 at 12:30pm against No. 1 California Lutheran University.
The Bulldogs, who are now 16-15, 5-6 SCIAC were led by Drake Moody's (Camarillo, CA) six-goal performance. Liam Murphy (Placentia, CA) turned in another big day with 12 saves and a .706 save percentage before being replaced by Brandon Khalil (Bakersfield, CA) who had a save and a steal.
It was a slow start for the Maroon and Grey allowing the opening goal to the Blue Jays, while remaining off the scoreboard for the first 3:24 until Alec Abrahamian (Glendale, CA) connected that deadlocked the game. The Abrahamian goal sparked a Bulldog run that gave them a 3-1 advantage following the first eight minutes.
This run continued over the first three minutes of the second quarter as the UR lead extended to six, 7-1. During spurt, which included seven in a row, Moody scored three times, Andrew Higginson (San Diego, CA) scored and assisted on another, and Ron Gvishi (Kiryat Tivon, Israel) and Spencer Clinton (Cypress, Calif.) each bent the twine.
After the Blue Jays got a goal back with 3:38 remaining in the half, Clinton and Moody went back-to-back both scoring off a pair of Gvishi assists as the Bulldogs held a commanding 9-2 lead at the break.
In the opening 3:50 of the third quarter the Bulldogs put the game to bed with three straight as their lead turned into double-digits for the first time, 12-2. Eamon Greathouse (Bainbridge Island, WA) got in on the action with a goal and an assist as Moody slotted home two more goals, including a penalty with 4:10 left in the frame.
With some substitutes in the pool the game got a little more competitive over the final eleven minutes, but the Bulldogs still outscored the Blue Jays 6-4 down the stretch. Redlands got another goal from Greathouse and a pair of tallies from Ethan Beaty (Denver, CO). They also received the first goals of the game from Jake Rose (San Diego, CA), Michael Maher (Fremont, CA), and Owen Nishimura (Carlsbad, CA) as they wrapped up the 18-6 semifinal win.
The Bulldogs were outshot 32-29 but were more efficient than the Blue Jays, outshooting them by .433 (.621-.188). Another notable area Redlands had taken advantage of coming in was drawing penalties, and in this game they drew another three and converted two of them.
Four different Bulldogs found the back of the net multiple times: Beaty (2), Greathouse (2), Moody (6), and Clinton (2). Gvishi led the Bulldogs in assists with three, Greathouse, Spencer Sellwood (Irvine, CA), and Andrew Sorensen (Long Beach, CA) each had two. On the defensive end of the pool, Higginson and Sellwood each recorded two steals and Max Wagener (Piedmont, CA) had three.
Redlands will take on the Kingsmen of California Lutheran University for the fourth time this season tomorrow, December 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the Samuelson Aquatic Center with the National Championship on the line. Right now the Bulldogs are 0-3 against CLU, with past scores being 9-7, 11-9, and 8-5.