STOCKTON, Calif. – The No. 5 Pacific men’s water polo team smothered No. 17 Pomona-Pitzer in the NCAA Opening Round Saturday, 16-2. The Tigers defense posted 18 steals as Pacific advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals next Thursday.
Luke Pavillard scored three goals and added four assists and five steals, while Engin Ege Colak and Luis Araya also added hat tricks. Devon Thumwood scored twice while handing out three assists. Ben Stevenson scored twice and added four steals. The Tigers also received goals from Kale Ai – who added four assists — as well as Andres Schmidt and Eli Lule.
Pacific built a 5-1 lead by halftime and exploded with a 6-1 third quarter before a shutout fourth quarter to cruise into a quarterfinal meeting with No. 8 UC Davis.
The Tigers outshot the Sagehens 41-21 for the game and converted on four of eight power play opportunities.
Pacific jumped on the board in the first nine seconds as Ai won the sprint and fed Colak, who ripped home a goal from four meters out. Off a Pavillard steal, Thumwood scored one-on-one against Pomona-Pitzer goalie Daniel Diemer for a 2-0 lead. Pavillard scored from the wing on the power play as the Tigers led 3-0 after the first quarter.
In the second, Lule tallied a breakaway goal with a skip shot to the far side before Joseph Schafer capped a Sagehens power-play to cut the Tigers lead to 4-1. Pomona-Pitzer would get no closer as Colak tossed a pass into the two-meter for Pavillard, who spun to his strong side and finished for a 5-1 lead which Pacific carried into halftime.
The Tigers blew the game open in the third quarter as Colak powered a shot from four meters away to the near post, and Schmidt drove to the goal and finished cross-cage on an entry pass from Pavillard for a 7-1 lead. Thumwood scored in transition off a Colak steal and Pavillard’s third was a cross-cage shot to the far post. Stevenson tucked a shot from the point inside the post under the keeper’s hands for a 10-1 lead, and Araya got on the board by putting home his own rebound for an 11-1 lead.
The Sagehens ended the quarter with a goal from Keegan Coleman into the short side off a pass from Noah Sasaki.
In the fourth, Colak scored on the power-play from three meters for a 12-2 lead. Diemer, the SCIAC Player of the Year, departed to a standing ovation from the crowd at Chris Kjeldsen Pool after 11 saves and three steals, with 5:36 left in the fourth. The Tigers used the opportunity to also change goalies, with Alen Osmanovic‘s day coming to an end after 10 saves and two steals.
Stevenson scored his second as Ai fed him with a cross-pool pass, and Araya finished on doorstop off lob pass from Stevenson on a Pacific power play. Ai accepted another cross-pool pass from Pavillard and beat keeper James Kelbert for a 15-2 advantage before Wyatt Barker found Araya for his third goal and the final margin.
John Hedges recorded three saves in net in the final 5:36 for the Tigers.
Thumwood’s two goals gives the senior 150 for his career, 14th on the all-time scoring list.
The Sagehens wrap their 2017 season at 24-11 overall and have won 47 games with a pair of SCIAC titles in the last two years.
Pacific improves to 20-5 overall and will face UC Davis in the NCAA quarters at USC on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will meet No. 1 UCLA in the semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The Tigers defeated UC Davis 13-10 on Nov. 11 this season and have won 10 in a row against the Aggies dating back to 2009. Since that meeting in 2009, Pacific is 74-0 against teams outside of the Golden Coast Conference or Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The GCC split off from the MPSF two seasons ago and is the only conference with every member ranked in the CWPA Top 20. The MPSF sent three teams to the NCAA tournament in 2017. The MPSF and GCC members have provided all but one NCAA finalist — including Pacific in 2013 — dating back to 1969.