Water polo stumbles at home

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The Kingsmen welcomed their SCIAC rival, the University of Redlands, to the Samuelson Aquatic Center to host their final home game of the season. Unfortunately, this senior day for the men’s water polo team did not go as planned.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a very quick 3-0 lead in the beginning minutes of the game. Things didn’t get much better as their starting defender, sophomore Kyle Norheim, was ejected. They stayed within striking distance after trailing 5-2 after the first quarter.

The Kingsmen leading scorer senior Dejan Novakovic was also ejected after his third kick out of the game.

“That hurt us a lot,” said head coach Craig Rond.  “When you lose Dejan who is our leading scorer on the team so early in the game it hurts us a lot.”

Being Novakovic’s senior day, this was very frustrating for the scoring leader.

“It sucked especially because the three calls against me were absolutely ridiculous, I feel. But then again, I don’t want to blame the refs. There were things I could have done to change that,” said Novakovic.

Senior Max Zappas, who led the team on Saturday with two goals, viewed the ejections as detriments to the team.

“It affected the team pretty badly. Two starters out in the first quarter. I had two kick outs myself so I was on the verge of getting kicked out of the game as well, so that led to us lacking on offense and defense,” said Zappas.

There were 27 total kick outs in the game.

But according to Rond, it was no different than any other SCIAC match up.

The Kingsmen never seemed to be able to get back into rhythm after the loss of their two starters.  Any time the Kingsmen made a run, Redlands quickly responded with a goal of their own. The final score was 11-7 in favor of the Bulldogs.

“Not a lot worked for us, I’ll tell you that much,” said Rond.  “We had a pretty good game plan against them and Redlands didn’t surprise us one bit, but we didn’t execute our game plan and when we don’t do that it’s hard to score and win games.”

Although Norheim and Novakovic’s presence were missed in the pool, Novakovic doesn’t think it should have been an excuse for the loss.

“We should have stuck together and played through it,” said Novakovic.

“We let some calls that didn’t go our way get to our heads and then we fell apart.”

One conference game remains for CLU and then the SCIAC tournament starts.

It’s a matter of trust in Rond’s mind.

“We just have to trust each other and trust our game plan and if we do that, we’re a pretty good team,” said Rond. “We’ve had some really good spots this year, but we’ll just have to get back to the drawing board.”

Both Zappas and Novakovic share the sentiment that it’s all a matter of execution.

“We got to stick to the game plan,” said Zappas.  “When we’re all working together, we do really well and when we’re not, we’re awful. Along with capitalizing on kick outs, working together in our counter attack will lead to goals, too.”

Novakovic wants the team to execute on all the hard work and preparation they do during the week.

If they do, they will be successful against La Verne today at 4 p.m. as well as later on in the SCIAC tournament.

 

Craig Jacobson
Staff Writer
Published Oct. 31, 2012