Livermore, CA - The Golden West College (31-0) Men's Water Polo team claimed the program's 24th California Community College Athletic Association State Championship on Saturday afternoon. The Rustlers did so in emphatic fashion with a 15-8 victory over Long Beach City College (22-7).
The Rustlers set the tone with their defense early on, keeping Long Beach off the scoreboard until the 2:24 mark of the second quarter. By that time, Golden West had worked up a 9-0 lead over the Vikings, thanks to three goals by Peter Lovas, two more from Alex Nathan, and another pair from Lachlan Trabinger.
Long Beach's first strike would come deep into the second quarter when Miles Martinez helped convert t a 6-on-5 opportunity for the Vikings. Golden West would go on to match the Long Beach effort when Rowan Farrell scored on a power play to make it 10-1. The Vikings would try to make a late run in the third quarter, using a 3-1 spurt to cut their deficit to seven after a goal by Gavin Kunkle. The Ruslters would score the next two and put the game away to secure the State Championship victory.
In the victory, tournament MVP Lovas would score a game high five goals for Golden West. Nathan would add three, while Tom McJannett would help draw a team high three exclusions, while goalie Sid Dymond put on a show in the cage with 17 saves and a pair of steals. For Long Beach, Kunkle would score three times and draw a game high five exclsuons, while Teo Dadic added three more to go with a game high four steals.
3rd Place Game
In arguably the most exciting game of the weekend, West Valley College overcome an early four goal deficit to record a victory over San Joaquin Delta College for the third time this year and second straight weekend when Ashvath Balgovind ripped the back of the net as time expired to give the Vikings a 13-12 victory over the Mustangs.
San Joaquin Delta controlled the game early, scoring five of the first six goals of the contest, two of which came off the hands of Jay Halva and two more from Nathan Van Cleave. At risk of falling too far behind West Valley rallied midway through the second, going on a 5-2 run getting three goals from Sinai Gonzalez Lara including one with 59 seconds left in the first half to go into the break down 6-7.
The third quarter would see the two teams trade scores, with West Valley tying the game up on four separate occasions until Halva gave the Mustangs a 11-10 lead headed into the fourth after his score with 43 seconds left in the third. Balgovind would promptly tie the game back up on a 6-on-5 score with 6:50 left in the game, but Van Cleave gave Delta a 12-11 lead on the Mustang's very next possession.
Over the next five and a half minutes the two teams would trade fruitless offensive possessions. With the clock and the season winding down, West Valley's Zachary Gallardo would take a pass from Jason Russum and tie the game up with 29 seconds to go. Delta would try to end the game on their next possion, but the Vikings forced a turnover and took over deep in their own water. After a foul by the Mustangs stopped the clock with just a second remaining, West Valley's Joey Coupe quickly pushed the ball out to Balgovind who buried a shot from 10 meters out as the horn sounded to win the game for the Vikings.
In the win, the Vikings were paced by Gonzalez Lara who netted four goals, and recorded a game high six steals. Balgovind would score just twice, but both were crucial for West Valley. For Delta, Halva scored five teams, while Braden Lee didn't get on the board but did draw a game high five exclusions.
Peter Lovas (FR) UTIL - Golden West College - MVP
Sid Dymond (FR) G - Golden West College
Lachlan Traniger (FR) UTIL - Golden West College
Nick Wood (SO) G - Long Beach City College
Teo Dadic (SO) ATT - Long Beach City College
Sinai Gonzales Lara (FR) D - West Valley College
Jay Halva (SO) UTIL - San Joaquin Delta College