(Walnut, CA) In an intense and close game, both Cerritos and Mt. SAC battled to the end in a South Coast Conference Men's Water Polo game Wednesday (Oct. 23) at the Marie T. Mills Aquatics Center..
In the end, the Mounties came out on top, 12-9, to gain an edge heading into the conference championships in November.
"It's a big win, it's nice," Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo Coach Marc Ruh said. "It's good to knock off a conference rival.
"It's the first time we beat them (Cerritos) in the regular season. It was good, especially the way the guys won. This was the first time we won a close game."
Mt. SAC (16-4, 3-1), ranked seventh in state, has one game remaining in conference action against Chaffey (Wednesday Oct. 30). Wiith a win, they can get an automatic bid into the SCC semifinals and a possible rematch with Cerritos.
The win over No. 5 Cerritos (16-8, 3-1) propelled the Mounties into a tie for second place with Cerritos in conference behind first place and undefeated Long Beach City College (20-0, 4-0)
Leading the way for Mt. SAC was Ian Tauer (3 Assists, 4 Steals) with a game-high four goals. That was followed by three goals from Brandon Shew. Center Brandon Knapp added two goals, two assists and two steals.
"We started off pretty strong," said Shew, who is the team leader in goals with 43. "In the middle we kind of lost it, but got it in the end. It was great."
Tauer gave the Mounties a 2-0 lead early in the first period, scoring both goals. Cerritos came back with the next four goals for a 4-2 after the first period. All four goals scored were extra-man scores.
In the second period, attacker Dillon Mannion and Knapp each scored a goal in the first minute and a half to tie the game at 4-4.
Cerritos grabbed the 5-4 halftime lead with three minutes left in the period.
The third period was a back-and-forth affair, with the Mounties holding a 3-2 edge in goals, with Shew scoring twice and Tauer once for the 7-7 tie.
That set the stage for the final period.
Mt. SAC built up a 9-7 lead early in the fourth period on consecutive goals by Tauer and Knapp in a 30-second span. The second goal came in close from the set position by Knapp.
"Once you get up by two or three goals, that could put a team away," said Tauer, who is second on the team with 38 goals. "We clearly saw that in this game with a couple of minutes left.
"This is a huge win and we're getting close to the peak of our season. I think we have a real shot to do something big."
The goal by Knapp came with 5:27 remaining.
"(Knapp) had a big one out of the center (position)," Ruh said. "He had not scored one of those like that in a while. We also had some good stops defensively," Ruh said.
One of those defensive plays was a crucial steal by attacker Justin Wakefield late in the period.
Cerritos, however, answered with two goals in the next two minutesn to again tie the game, 9-9.
But, that was it for the Falcons as Shew, Kyle Green and Wakefield put the game away with single goals.
Again, having a big game in goal was Andres Mercado, who now is third in the state with 15 wins.
"Every stop counts in my head," Mercado said. "It feels reall good to beat Cerritos and now we can focus on our next game. I'm so excited."
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.