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Mountie Men's Water Polo upset OCC at Mt. SAC Tournament; Finish 2-1

EDWARD (EJ) LYNCH, Freshman Driver taking a shot on goal. (Photo Courtesy of DavesSportsImage)
EDWARD (EJ) LYNCH, Freshman Driver taking a shot on goal. (Photo Courtesy of DavesSportsImage)

(Walnut, CA) In the final game of the 48th Annual Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo Tournament, the Mounties defeated Orange Coast College and finished 2-1 in three games on Friday and Saturday (September 16-17) at the Marie T. Mills Aquatics Center.

In perhaps two of the most exciting games this season, the Mounties lost to the 2021 CCCAA State runner-up Sierra College Wolverines, 15-14, and ended the annual tournament with a thrilling, 8-7, upset win over perennial powerhouse Orange Coast.

Mt. SAC opened the tourney with a 16-6 victory over Palomar.

"Probably the highlight of the tournament was the final game against OCC," Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo coach Marc Ruh said. "The kids played really well. All in all, we had one loss to an outstanding Sierra team. So, a great weekend."

Mt. SAC (6-7) opened the two-day tournament with a win over Palomar as freshman utility Brandon Fabrega and EJ Lynch each led the Mounties with four goals. Aidan Murphy also scored twice.

The first of the two thrilling games for Mt. SAC was against Sierra College, as the Mounties made a late comeback, as they lost by a single goal.

Trailing, 11-5 at the half, Mt. SAC, with five goals in the second half from Fabrega, outscored Sierra, 9-4.

Leading the way in the game was Fabrega with seven goals, while Lynch added four.

The stage was set for the evening game against OCC.

With the score tied at the half, 4-4, and both teams alternating scores, the same scenario played out in the second half.

After Coast took an early, 5-4 lead, both defenses tightened up before Fabrega evened the score, 5-5, with 1:51 remaining in the third period.

Fabrega, who scored four second-half goals, scored again for a 6-5 lead heading into the last period.

OCC scored two consecutive goals in two and a half minutes to start the period for a 7-6 lead with 5:34 left. It was the Pirates' last lead of the contest.

The stage again was set, this time, however, for the big win.

With the Mounties on a man advantage, Zack Ewing, who has fed Fabrega multiple times this season, found the freshman to tie the game for the seventh time, 7-7, with 4:39 remaining in the game.

After Murphy was given an exclusion and OCC failed to convert on the man-advantage, Fabrega gave the Mounties their final lead of the game on an assist from Murphy at the 3:47 mark for the 8-7 lead.

The Pirates had three more shots at the goal, hitting the post twice and sophomore goalie Noah Stark making the save with seconds remaining.

Stark, who leads the state by a wide margin in saves (168), made 48 in the three games.

Fabrega, who leads the CCCAA state with 57 goals, scored 16 goals in the three Mt. SAC games. He also had nine steals, which also is tops in the state, as he has amassed 121 thefts, 46 more than second place.

"Noah (Stark) played really well (17 Saves), which kept us in the game and of course, Brandon (Stark) did his normal magic," Ruh concluded.

The Mounties play at Occidental on Wednesday (Sept. 21) and end next weekend (Sept. 23, 24) in San Luis Obispo with four games at the Cuesta College Tournament.

Follow Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo on twitter @mtsacaquatics

Follow Mt. SAC Athletics on twitter @MtSAC_athletics or Facebook @Mountie.Athletics

For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.