Men's Water Polo Takes Two Games To Open Season

Photo by Don Jedlovec
Photo by Don Jedlovec

REDLANDS, Calif. - Opening the season at the Inland Empire Tournament, No. 14 Santa Clara men's water polo won both of its games during the first day of the tournament. The Broncos took down Chapman 14-12 and Whittier 12-9 to move their record to 2-0.

On offense, Tucker Carlson led the way for the Broncos by scoring seven goals over the two games while Matt Kochalko found the back of the net four times. In a timesharing situation in net that saw John Nash play the first half of each game and Matt Pritchett playing the second half, the two combined for 29 blocks.

Santa Clara will return to the pool tomorrow to take on No. 5 UC Santa Barbara at 11 a.m. and the host Redlands at 4:30 p.m. to wrap-up its part of the weekend tournament.

Game one saw the Broncos take down Chapman 14-12 behind a strong fourth quarter. The game was tied at halftime but Chapman built an 11-9 lead heading into the final quarter. Santa Clara was able to score five times in the last quarter and hold Chapman to just one goal. Carlson led the way with four goals while Kochalko had three and Jimmy Moore and James Rude each had two. Theo Nasser, Stephen Bilz and Chase Schaaf rounded out the scoring with one goal each. In the first half, Nash picked up seven blocks and Pritchett had 10 in the second half. Kyle Nadel had four earned ejections and Evan Chang had three.

"It was the first game of the season for us so we were getting a feel for each other and the team," said Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur, in his 11th season leading the Broncos. "We were trailing the whole game until about halfway through the fourth quarter when we finished the game strong. We have a very young team this year and I thought it showed good character and composure to show they wanted to finish the game and get the win."

The second game of the day saw Santa Clara take on Whittier and come away with a 12-9 victory. After having a 6-5 halftime lead, the Broncos outscored Whittier 4-1 in the third quarter to go ahead for good. Nadel scored four goals while Carlson added three. Kochalko, Schaaf, Bilz, Rude and Moore each had one goal. Nash had five blocks and Pritchett had seven.

"Against Whittier we came out and played better," added Wilbur. "We built a lead and had good control of the game which let us have a solid lead most of the second half. I thought we played better on defense and that was the biggest difference throughout the game. One thing that benefits us is that we have a lot of different guys that can step-up on offense and that makes it fun to coach and hard for opponents to game plan against us."

SCU     3 4 2  5  14
CHAP  5 2 4  1  12

Goals: Carlson 4, Kochalko 3, Moore 2, Rude 2, Nasser, Bilz, Schaaf
Blocks: Nash 7, Pritchett 10 

SCU    3 3 4 2 12
WHIT  3 2 1  3 9

Goals: Nadel 4, Carlson 3, Kochalko, Bilz, Moore, Schaaf, Rude
Blocks: Nash 5, Pritchett 7

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