By John M. Sherrard
(Walnut, CA) The Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo team got off to a hot start to the 2017 season with three wins in the annual Citrus College tournament Friday and Saturday.
Mt. SAC (3-1), which hosted 10 games at the Marie T. Mills Aquatic Complex, was led by freshman utility player Matthew Rauch and sophomore driver Roman Aceres with 17 and 16 goals respectively in the four games.
As a team the Mounties torched the net for 61 goals in the four games and came away with 64 steals in the three wins.
"These guys are gritty," Mt. SAC Water Polo coach Marc Ruh said. "They rose to the challenge in every game. They are a tough group of young men."
Leading the way in thefts was Aceres with 12, while three players – freshman utility player Thomas Carney, sophomore utility Nicholas Perez and freshman utility Christian Martinez – all had 10 steals each.
In the four games, Mt. SAC freshman goalie Jake Simmons had 76 saves, which leads the state. He also blocked three penalty shots and had eight steals in the four games.
"That helps the team quite a bit," said Ruh of Simmons, who was the goalie for the CIF-Southern Section champion Orange Lutheran team.
Cal Tech 13, Mt. SAC 11 OT
With the game tied, 10-10, after four periods, Cal Tech outscored the Mounties, 3-1, in the two overtime periods for the win in game one of the tournament.
Leading the way for the Mounties were Aceres and sophomore utility Adrian Hernandez with three goals apiece. Rauch also added two goals.
The Mounties received goals from five different players in the first half. Hernandez and Aceres led the Mounties with two goals each in the second half.
Mt. SAC 13, Grossmont 10
In the second game of the tournament, the Mounties got into the win column with the win over Grossmont. Aceres led Mt. SAC with five goals and five steals in the game. Perez also had five thefts.
Aceres led the Mounties with four of the teams' seven second-half goals.
Mt. SAC 22, San Diego Miramar 2
In the Miramar game, Rauch and Aceres led the Mounties with five goals each along with four from freshman driver Aiden O'Neil. Three Mounties had five steals each in the game – freshmen utility Carney, (So) Hernandez and Martinez.
The Mounties scored seven and nine goals respectively in the first two periods, with Rauch leading the way with four goals before intermission.
Mt. SAC 15, Ventura 13
Trailing, 3-0, in the first five minutes of the game, the Mounties reeled off nine consecutive goals for the 9-3 lead before Ventura could score again with 2:44 left in the first half.
"I was very impressed with the team and their ability to come back," Ruh said. "(This) game showed us a lot being down, 3-0, and after a quick time out went on a 9-0 run."
Ventura scored three consecutive goals to close within three goals, 9-6, but Rauch added a goal with just one second left in the half for the, 10-6 lead. Rauch poured in eight goals in the game, which was tops for the Mounties in their four games.
Ventura outscored the Mounties, 4-2, in the third period to close within two goals, 12-10.
In the final period Rauch put in two goals along with a goal from Hernandez for the four-goal, 51-11, advantage with 1:16 remaining.
Ventura made it interesting with two late goals, but the Mounties hung on for the win.
Carney and Aceres led the Mounties on defense with four steals apiece.
Mt. SAC will begin South Coast Conference action with a game this Wednesday, September 13. Game time is 4:30 pm.
Follow Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo on twitter @mtsacaquatics
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.