Kingsmen water polo make national championship game; fall to Redlands


Photo by Ysabella Gonzalez - Reporter

Despite the loss, the Kingsmen water polo team recorded the most successful water polo season in Cal Lutheran’s history.

Ysabella Gonzalez and Marcel Hurtubise

California Lutheran University’s Kingsmen water polo team defeated Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the semifinals of the Division III Collegiate Water Polo National Championship with a score of 17-7. The Kingsmen reached the finals for the first time in the program’s history.  

Fifth-year utility player Dillon Goldsmith scored the opening goal of the game for the Kingsmen, followed by junior attacker Adam Dow. However, the first quarter ended with a tie score of 2-2. 

Cal Lutheran returned to the second quarter looking to dominate, and managed to hold MIT at 2 points for over nine minutes as the Kingsmen scored six more times. 

“It was a lot of fun. That was our mentality going into this, we just wanted to have fun, y’know, going out to these types of games. They’re kind of stressful at the beginning, but I’m glad we came out good at the end,” fifth-year left-attacker Ben Brown said.

The third quarter opened with a goal by MIT, but Cal Lutheran stormed back as they scored six in a row to bring the score to 14-4 in favor of the Kingsmen. The Beavers scored another goal in the fourth quarter, but the Kingsmen responded instantly once again. Kingsman first-year attacker Bryan Lynch put the cherry on top of the team’s performance with one last goal in the final 36 seconds to end the game 17-7. Goldsmith led the Kingsmen charge with five goals out of the five shots he took. He was followed by Brown, Dow, and utility player Luke Matthies. First-year goalie Bo DuBois made six saves. 

The win meant a lot to the Kingsmen players, especially those who have been on the team for many years. 

“It was special. I mean this is something that we’ve had a goal of for this program for a very long time. Me and Ben, we’ve been in the program for five years…all that hard work paid off for five years to get to this point and I feel like we’ve executed very well as a full team,” Goldsmith said.

Despite the victory, Interim Head Coach Cody Pletcher remained wary of the improvements to be made for the championship game. 

“I thought offensively we actually did very well. The coaching staff gave our team a C+ on defense today, even though we only gave up seven goals. We know that our defense can be a little better, and no matter if we play Johns Hopkins or Redlands, our defense is going to have to be good because their game is going to step up a little bit,” Pletcher said. 

This win carried the water polo team to new heights, as they will compete for their first ever national championship. Pletcher said they were trying to keep the mindset that this would just be another game. 

“What these guys have been able to do, it’s special. It’s cool for the university, cool for the logo that we wear, but more importantly, these guys have been here for five years. More so, it’s just, they get to play alongside each other again, another game, and we’re not building it up that it is the national championship game, it’s just another game,” Pletcher said. 

In the championship round of the Division III National Championship the Kingsmen faced the Redlands Bulldogs. This was the fourth game against Redlands, and the second time they faced them in a championship game this season. 

The Kingsmen and Bulldogs came out with the same pressure, tying 3-3 in the first quarter and 5-5 by the half. The Kingsmen were unable to keep up as Redlands scored four goals in the third quarter, while the Kingsmen were unable to find the back of the net. The game ended with Cal Lutheran falling 6-11, placing them second in the nation in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and marking the end of a historic season for the Kingsmen water polo program.