Photo Courtesy of Pepperdine Athletics
No. 9 Pepperdine Water Polo dropped their first game of Golden Coast Conference competition to No. 4 Pacific on Sunday by just one goal, losing 9-8 in overtime.
Head Coach Terry Schroeder said he expected the conference split from Mountain Pacific Sports Federation to GCC to lead to “a lot of one goal games through the year,” according to the Sept. 13 edition of the Graphic.
So far, it appears he was correct.
In the thrilling overtime loss, the Waves effort was highlighted by two goals apiece from four different players: freshman Mate Toth, junior Kenneth Keller, redshirt senior Brock Liebhardt and sophomore Marko Asic.
The Tigers dominated the first period against the Waves. Pacific scored twice throughout the period, and while Pepperdine attempted seven shots, they ended the period down 2-0.
The Waves fired back leading up to the half. Pacific scored again in the second period, bringing the game to 3-0, but Pepperdine fought back. Toth scored twice and Keller once to even the score. Toth also tabbed an assist, as did redshirt junior Mark Urban and redshirt junior Charles Olsen. Pacific scored once more with six seconds left in the period to finish the half ahead at 4-3.
The rest of the game was a thrilling back and forth bout between the two squads. Liebhardt evened the score early in the third period on another Urban assist. Keller then scored again to help the Waves pull ahead 5-4. This back-and-forth continued throughout the third period, with another Pacific goal followed by another goal by Liebhardt, assisted by Keller. Pacific then tied the game at 6-6 to enter the fourth period.
Pacific pulled ahead 7-6 early in the fourth, but the Waves answered. Asic scored back to back goals, assisted by Toth and Keller, to pull the Waves ahead 8-7. Pacific evened it up at 8-8 with 2:38 left in the game, but neither team could break the draw, sending the game into overtime.
Pacific scored once in the first period of overtime, bringing the score to 9-8. The Waves couldn’t come up with a goal, despite four shot attempts.
Junior Zack Rhodes had 18 saves throughout the entirety of the game. The loss brings the Waves to an 8-5 record on the season.
Pepperdine was coming off of one win and three losses at last weekend’s Mountain Pacific Invitational, while the Tigers posted a win and two losses at the same tournament. The two teams are not scheduled to meet again during the regular season, but Pacific will be hosting the first Golden Coast Conference Men’s Water Polo Championship at the end of November.
The Waves will be back at home against GCC opponent UC Santa Barbara on Thursday. They last played UCSB at the Mountain Pacific Invitational on Sept. 25, where they fell 15-7. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool.
Follow Erin Himes on Twitter: @enhimes