By Madison Rubino
La Verne Athletics Communication
WHITTIER, Calif. — Rey Julian Castillo scored six goals and the La Verne men's water polo team erased a four-goal deficit to beat NCAA Division II Fresno Pacific, 16-14 in overtime on Saturday evening at Slade Aquatic Center.
Both teams came out fighting and traded goals in the first half but Fresno Pacific made the first adjustments and dominated offensively, putting them in a 7-4 lead by the end of the second quarter.
The Sunbirds eventually stretched the lead to four goals but the Leopards never let them get out of sight and struck in the fourth quarter. he La Verne gained offensive momentum in the fourth quarter when Joshua Vega scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at 12-12 with 3:08 left in regulation. Rex Sample made it three in a row to give the Leopards their first lead of the match.
But Fresno Pacific's Jacob Fairchild scored to tie the game at 13-13 with just 58 seconds to go to force overtime. But La Verne won the sprint and eventually took control in the first overtime period. Castillo broke the tie with less than 40 seconds remaining in the first period and Guillermo Ocasio beat the buzzer to extend the lead to 16-13 and the Leopards held on for the win.
Castillo led the team offensively with six goals and goalie Ian Hernandez controlled Leopard territory with thirteen saves.
The Leopards return to action next Saturday against Long Beach State in the first game of the Inland Empire Classic at 9 a.m.