M. Water Polo: Comeback win over Merced ends regular season

Rodrigo Baca scores an insurance goal in the Falcons 14-12 win over Merced
Rodrigo Baca scores an insurance goal in the Falcons 14-12 win over Merced

Just one day removed from an emotional one-goal win over rival Long Beach City College, the Cerritos College men's water polo team was faced with another challenge on Thursday. The Falcons (18-7) came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat visiting Merced College, 14-12 in their final regular season match. Next up will be the South Coast Conference Tournament next weekend, with Cerritos seeded #2, where they will play at 1:00 p.m. on November 1 against the winner of the Mt. San Antonio-El Camino match. They will also serve as host of the tournament.

In the win over the Blue Devils (19-3), the Falcons trailed, 12-9 after three periods. Although they missed several good scoring chances in the fourth period, Cerritos outscored Merced, 5-0 in the period and scored the eventual game-winning goal with 1:10 on the clock. Sophomore Raul Muniz (Colbach, Mexico), who had scored the previous two goals to draw the team closer, posted his game-high fifth goal to put the team in front for good.

The defense held off Merced on their next possession with a steal from freshman goalkeeper Zachary Jenkins (La Serna HS). On a 6-on-5 situation, the Falcons looked to get off a good shot as the clock was winding down. They got that shot, as freshman Nik Klimpfinger (Los Alamitos HS) found freshman Rodrigo Baca (Kennedy HS) in front of the net and he tapped home an insurance goal with :16 seconds left in the game. Merced was unable to get off a final shot and the Falcons came away with another tight win. Of their 18 wins on the season, six have been by two goals or less, including their last four.

In addition to the five goals from Muniz, sophomores Dylan Sun (Cerritos HS) and Arturo Ortuno (Universidad la Salle, Mexico), along with freshman Kevin Elizarraraz (Buena Park HS) each scored twice for the Falcons, with Sun also assisting on four goals. Sun, Muniz, Ortuno and Jenkins each recorded four steals, while Jenkins played the second half and registered five saves to earn the win.

Photos by Daryl Peterson