November 17, 2005

Santa Clara Opens Up Conference Championships with Split

Nov. 17, 2005

Los Angeles, Calif. - On the first day of the Western Water Polo Association Championships, hosted by Loyola Marymount, the seventh-seeded Santa Clara men's water polo team came out firing in the first round, defeating 10th-seeded Pomona-Pitzer 9-4.  In the second round, Santa Clara once again came out strong in the opening stages against second-seeded Loyola Marymount, but fell just short of an upset and dropped an 8-5 decision.  Despite the loss to the nationally-ranked Lions, Broncos head coach Keith Wilbur is optimistic and encouraged from what his team displayed today.

"On the first day, the guys came out and played well. It's what I wanted to see and it's much better than how we performed last year," commented Wilbur. "We've got a chance to move up in the standings and we've got to focus and play well the next two days."

In the morning match against Pomona-Pitzer, Santa Clara was lead by a pair of underclassmen as sophomore Tommy Kelly and freshman Jack Wall combined for four goals in the winning effort. Jon Greco, Chris Parolin, Mike Detoy, Whit Gilfillan and Tom Hendrickson all chipped in with a goal. Greco also had three assists and drew one kickout, while Parolin drew two kickouts and recorded an assist. In the cage, Michael Petersen had eight blocks in only three quarters of action, while Jon Young notched two blocks in one quarter.

"The team came out strong and focused against Pomona, which was important because it was the first game of the tournament. The guys played at a high level and really set the tone for the rest of the weekend," said Wilbur.

Against the higher-seeded Lions, the Broncos were once again led by Wall, who notched two goals in the loss. Patrick Noack, Detoy, and Gilfillan all added one goal. Kevin Starry posted two assists and a steal, while Petersen held the Loyola Marymount offense at bay with four blocks and two steals.

"It was a good battle and a good showing by our guys. In the first half, the team competed hard, though we ran out of gas by the third quarter," said Wilbur. "We came back with a good fourth quarter, but Loyola Marymount took advantage of our one bad quarter. Despite the loss, we've improved a lot over the year, so that's encouraging."

Santa Clara, now 15-15 on the year, returns to the pool tomorrow on the second day of action at the WWPA Championships, facing the winner of a morning match between Air Force and Santa Cruz. Game time is set for 3:10 p.m.