LA VERNE, Calif. — Rey Julian Castillo scored five goals, and the University of La Verne men's water polo team led Whittier with under four minutes left in the game. But the Poets notched three goals late to beat the Leopards 13-12 Wednesday afternoon.
With the game tied 8-8 heading into the fourth quarter, Whittier retook the lead with 6:41 remaining in the game. Joshua Vega responded for the Leopards less than 30 seconds later to even the game at 9-9.
Whittier briefly jumped back on top, but Joey Sabers and Jason Russum both found the back of the net to put La Verne up 11-10. It looked like the lead would hold, but the Poets went on a late surge to take the game.
Vega finished the game with a hat-trick. Goalie Ian Hernandez was a force in the cage for La Verne. The junior grabbed 12 saves to keep his team close.
The Leopards took the early 2-0 lead after back-to-back goals by by Castillo and Vega. The Poets rattled off the next four goals to take the 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
La Verne outscored Whittier in the next period 2-1 with goals by Castillo and Rex Sample to cut the deficit to just one, 5-4, at the break.
Sample led the Leopards with three steals with Castillo adding three of his own.
Season Impact: The Leopards fall to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in SCIAC play. The Poets improve to 4-7 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
Next Up: The Leopards are back in the pool on Saturday when they face the Caltech Beavers at 11:00 a.m.