M. Water Polo: Setback drops Falcons into third in conference

Dylan Sun had a goal and five steals for the Falcons
Dylan Sun had a goal and five steals for the Falcons

Looking to maintain a share of first place in the South Coast Conference with a win, the Cerritos College men's water polo team came up short in a 10-9 decision against visiting Mt. San Antonio College on Wednesday. The loss to the Mounties (18-6, 4-1) sees the Falcons slip into third place with just one conference game remaining. After competing in the Golden West Tournament this weekend, Cerritos (13-6, 3-1) will host rival Long Beach City College at 4:30 p.m. next Wednesday. A win would result in a three-way tie for first place heading into the conference tournament.

With the game knotted at 9-9 heading into the final minute of the fourth period, it appeared as though the Cerritos defense had forced a turnover, as the Mounties didn't look like they would get off a shot. However, an exclusion was called against freshman Kevin Elizarraraz (Buena Park HS) with one second left on the shot clock. Mt. SAC was able to convert that into the eventual game-winning goal, as Justin Swafford scored with :40 seconds on the clock. The Falcons looked to tie the game, but saw Mt. SAC goalkeeper Jake Simmons come up with a save and Cerritos didn't get another scoring opportunity.

Trailing 5-3 late in the second period, Elizarraraz drew the team a goal closer when he found the back of the net with 3:53 on the clock. Neither team would score the remainder of the first half, as both teams played a swarming defense, while both Simmons and Falcons freshman goalkeeper Zachary Jenkins (La Serna HS) each made key saves. After Elizarraraz tied the game at 6-6 with 4:34 left in the third period, sophomore Dylan Sun (Cerritos HS) put the team in front for the first time, when he scored with 2:45 remaining in the third period.

It would turn out to be the only lead on the day for Cerritos, as the game was then tied at 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9 before the Mounties came up with the winning goal. Both keepers made seven blocks in the match, but none was larger than Simmons, who stopped Elizarraraz point blank in the team's final possession before the game-winning goal. Sophomore Raul Muniz (Colbach, Mexico) and Arturo Ortuno (Universidad la Salle, Mexico) also had high-percentage shots turned away.

Elizarraraz led the team with four goals and added four steals on defense, while five other players scored once for the Falcons. Sun finished with five steals, with Muniz and Ortuno collecting four each. Versatile freshman starter Nik Klimpfinger (Los Alamitos HS) was called four two early exclusions, which saw his game time limited and adjusted the team's substitution strategies.

Photos by Daryl Peterson