Occidental’s men’s water polo team defeated Chapman University 13-12 Oct. 12. According to the Occidental Athletics webpage, the team came into the game with lots of energy and was able to keep that up until the last seconds of the game. The win brought them to 4-0 in the SCIAC water polo ratings, which athlete Keegan Klein (junior) said has raised team spirits even further.
“I think going into post-season, getting to the SCIAC championships is definitely more of a reality now and was definitely solidified after getting that win,” Klein said. “It definitely hyped us up and pushed us to work harder to keep the win streak going.”
Klein scored four goals during the match, which he said was a highlight of his athletic career at Occidental. Klein said the win also demonstrated the hard work all the athletes have put in, especially on their defensive strategy.
“I think for the team it’s such a big win because, at least since I’ve been here, we haven’t beaten Chapman. It was nice to get that win over them,” Klein said.
Shea Grosz (junior), who scored two goals in the match against Chapman, said the win has increased support for the team from the Occidental community.
“We haven’t beaten Chapman in over five years. Our team hadn’t been playing very well, which was why people didn’t come out to our games. I wouldn’t come out to our games either, so I’m not mad,” Grosz said. “But now that we’ve beaten teams that we haven’t beaten in five or ten years, and have had some bigger wins, it gives people more reasons to come out and support us.”
Henry Grady (senior), who had twelve steals and one save in his role as goalie during the match, said having Occidental fans come out to watch the team play is his favorite part of the sport. He said it was especially fun when the Chapman crowd went quiet after the Occidental team scored.
“Winning at their pool with all of their fans in the stands is awesome,” Grady said. “Having the home crowd be silent is a great moment for us because we know we’re in control of the game and have shut them down.”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Grosz said the team is focused on winning the rest of their matches in order to secure a good position in SCIAC.
“We came in planning to beat [Chapman] because if we didn’t beat them, it would make our placement in the division really tough. We came in after last year like, ‘Look, we have to win this game, and we’re going to win this game,’ and I think for the rest of our games we have to come in with that mentality,” Grosz said. “The goal right now is to win all of our games.”
Grady said the team will continue working hard to achieve their goal of making it to play-offs.
“We just need to focus on ourselves and continue to improve as a group everyday. We want to compete for a SCIAC and National title and that’s the only way to put ourselves in a position to do that,” Grady said.
Jack Stabenfelt, head coach for the men’s water polo team, said he is looking forward to watching the team put in the work at practice in order to accomplish their goals.
“I’d like to see us continue to play our best water polo each night at practice,” Stabenfelt said.
No matter how the team fares in the postseason, Grosz said he is proud of everything the team has already accomplished.
“We’ve had a lot of games this season where we’ve been like, ‘We’ve never done this before!’” Grosz said. “And the moment that you know you’ve done it for the first time feels the best.”
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