The No. 16 University of Redlands men’s water polo team won three straight games despite falling to fifth-seeded No. 15 Santa Clara University in its opening game of the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships on Friday to ensure a fifth-place finish in the three-day postseason tournament.
The championship tournament, which took place at Claremont Mudd-Scripps Colleges from Nov. 21-23, included a 10-team field: No. 8 Loyola Marymount University, No. 9 UC San Diego, No. 11 UC Davis, Redlands, Santa Clara, the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Academy (CO), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, Chapman University and UC Santa Cruz.
A three-goal effort by senior driver Andrew Becskehazy (Miami, FL) on Friday fell just short of lifting the Bulldogs over Santa Clara. Redlands led 7-6 at the half, but the Broncos netted four second-half goals to the maroon and gray’s two to edge Redlands 10-9 in the first-round matchup.
Becskehazy led the way again in Redlands’ second game, which took place on Saturday, but this time, the Bulldogs prevailed, crushing UC Santa Cruz by a 13-5 final.
Redlands defeated the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) champions, Pomona-Pitzer, with ease in its second contest on Saturday, advancing to the fifth-place game after winning 11-5.
Sunday’s game against Air Force featured a high offensive output from both teams, and the score was knotted at 10 at the end of regulation. The Bulldogs scored three goals to the Falcons’ one in the first overtime period, giving Redlands the 13-11 win. Senior utility player Buddy Olds (Murrieta, CA) finished out his collegiate water polo career playing the role of the hero, scoring a team-high three goals.
Becskehazy wrote a storybook ending to an illustrious Bulldog water polo career, leading the team in its four games with nine goals. Junior center Brendan Meaney (Palm Desert, CA) scored seven goals while Olds and sophomore defender Andrew Smith-Jones (Annapolis, MD) compiled six apiece to supplement Becskehazy’s offensive success. Also scoring for Redlands were senior defender Jon Rielly (Vista, CA), sophomore center Miran Terzic (Mostar, Bosna i Hercegovina), junior utility player Brent Dotters (Porterville, CA) with three, junior driver Taylor Swyers (St. Louis, MO), senior utility player Jim Kehrig (Danville, CA), junior defender John Floersch (San Jose, CA) and junior utility player Ian Starkie (Arroyo Grande, CA) with two and junior center Ben Taylor (Porterville, CA) with one.
In goal, senior goalkeeper Teddy Trowbridge (Mercer Island, WA) saved a team-high 18 shots while junior goalkeeper Jack Amaral (Porterville, CA) also saw action between the posts and tallied 11 saves.
Redlands closed out its excellent season with a 29-9 record, including a 9-1 mark in conference games.