(Erie, PA) A very successful trip to Pennsylvania for the Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo Team concluded over the weekend, September 28-30, with five wins in six games.
For the third consecutive year the Mounties have traveled across the country and taken on NCAA Division 2 and 3 teams.
"We set this trip up to cram as much in as possible in as short amount of time as possible," said Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo coach Marc Ruh of the trip. "We feel it is really important for the kids to be able to see some sites, like Niagara Falls, and give them some time to explore."
That included walking 6-7 miles and exploring the area.
After seeing the sites the Mounties began the trip with a single contest on Friday September 28 and lost their only game, 24-11 to NCAA Div. 2 Gannon University.
"This was a really tough game for us," Ruh said. "As expected, we looked tired. Gannon was quick and fast and took advantage of us. That was probably the best thing that could have happened to us."
Three games were played on the second day with victories over D2 McKendree University B (13-8), McKendree University (15-14) and D3 Penn State University Behrend (11-7).
On Sunday September 30 Mt. SAC swept two games. The first was a 19-13 win over D3 Washington & Jefferson University and a narrow 10-9 victory over D2 Salem International University.
After the Mounties loss on the first day, they won or tied every period but one in the five remaining games.
Gm. #1 – Gannon 24, Mt. SAC 11
Heredia led the Mounties with three goals, with Brokaw (3 Steals) and Barker (2 Stl.) adding two each.
Mt. SAC trailed 7-4 after one period of play at Gannon's Carneval Athletic Pavilion and were outscored 5-1 in the second period for the 12-5 halftime deficit. Barker led the Mounties in the half with a pair of goals.
Brokaw scored the lone Mounties goal in the third and Gannon added seven more for the comfortable 19-6 advantage heading into the final period.
Mt. SAC had its biggest goal output in the fourth period with five, led by all three of Heredia's goals in the game.
Gm. #2 – Mt. SAC 13, MeKendree University B 8
The Mounties were led by a pair of three-goal scorers, Barker (3 Stls.) and attacker Edgar Cueva (4 Stls.) in a game at Junker Center.
Mt. SAC took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Brokaw and Cueva and never trailed the rest of the game. They led 6-4 at the half.
The Mounties outscored the Bearcats 7-4 in the second half, led by a pair of goals from Cueva. The Mounties also had single goals in the final period from driver Aidan O'Neill (3 A), driver Justin Safford and Barker (3 Stls.).
Mt. SAC goalie Jake Simmons made 15 saves in the game for the win.
Gm. #3 – Mt. SAC 15, McKendree University 14
The second of three games on Saturday September 29 ended with another victory for the Mounties, but
It was a nail-bitter. The game was tied 8-8 at the half and Mt. SAC held a 12-11 lead heading into the fourth period.
The Bearcats evened the game at 12-12 in the first minute of the period and took the lead, 13-12 just over two minutes later.
Barker evened the game with a penalty shot with 3:28 left in the game, but McKendree took its last lead of the game thirty seconds later, 14-13.
Barker and Heredia then scored for the Mounties in the last three minutes for the win.
"We were a little gassed in this game, but got the win," Ruh added.
Gm. #4 – Mt. SAC 11, Penn St. Behrend 7
The Mounties never trailed in this game as Barker was the leader with seven goals. Mt. SAC led 7-3 at the half and played them even with four goals each in the second half for the win.
"This game was tough energy-wise, but the kids battled and came through with the win again," Ruh said.
Gm. #5 – Mt. SAC 19, Washington & Jefferson 13
The Mounties, who were staying in Erie for the trip, made the two-hour trip to Pittsburgh for the final two games.
Brokaw had his best game of the season with six goals, followed by Barker and Heredia with four and three goals, respectively.
"They were tough," Ruh said. "This was a test for us to see how well we would bounce back after such a long couple of days Friday and Saturday.
"(Washington & Jefferson) had some very talented players and that game was much closer in the fourth quarter than the final score showed. The guys really battled and came together."
Gm. #6 – Mt. SAC 10, Salem International 9
Brokaw and driver Christian Lopez led the team with three goals each in the final game of the weekend.
The Mounties built up a 5-2 lead by halftime and an early goal by Heredia in the third period gave them a 6-2 advantage.
That lead disappeared as the Tigers scored four unanswered goals in the period for the 6-6 tie.
Late in the fourth period the Tigers took a 9-8 lead with 2:16 left.
However, sixteen seconds later Lopez tied the game at 9-9 and Barker scored the game-winner with 32 seconds left in the game.
"The team really showed a lot of character in this one," Ruh said. "In my mind, this was the one that stands out the most. We were up by as much as four at one point in the game, then down by one in the fourth.
"These guys could have rolled over and called it a weekend and no one would have been too upset about it given the circumstances. Instead, we tied it up and put it away. That was a real vision into what this team can do."
Ruh summed up a busy four days for the Mounties.
"This was such a unique weekend for us," Ruh added. "We saw officials that called a very different game than on the west coast and we played in pools that were very different than our pools at home. Most were narrow pools with a shallow end on one side, which just complicated the game for the kids. We were also playing teams that give scholarships or have kids that are third or fourth-year players."
All in all, the trip was short but very successful for the remainder of the season.
Ruh concluded……"when we come home the kids usually appreciate a normalized schedule, appreciate our pool and our officials much more. I think we came home with some great experiences and more prepared for the back half of the season."
The Mounties continue South Coast Conference action on Wednesday September 3, hosting Rio Hondo. 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.