ERIE, Pa. – The Connecticut College men's water polo split a pair of games on the opening day of the MAWPC West Region Championships on Saturday at the Cathedral Prep Event Center. After dropping a close contest against La Salle by a 13-11 score, the Camels ended the day on a high note by earning a 19-10 win over rival Washington & Jefferson and getting a championship-record 10 goals from senior Stephan Cress (Rockford, Mich.).
La Salle 13, Connecticut College 11
Connecticut College, which rallied to win a 12-11 thriller over La Salle at the Lott Natatorium earlier this season, found itself locked in another tight battle with the Division I program to begin this weekend's tournament.
The Camels rallied from behind twice and took a 6-5 lead when Cress found the back of the net for his second of four goals with five minutes remaining in the second quarter, but the Explorers came back and went ahead by a 9-8 score during the middle of the third frame.
Even though Cress tied the score at 9-all with at the 2:20 mark of the third, La Salle recovered by netting the next four to cap a 7-1 run and never looked back. Senior Jake Pescatore (New Haven, Conn.) and Cress would net late markers to spark an attempted rally, but the four-goal deficit in the final quarter would be too much for the Camels to overcome.
Connecticut College 19, Washington & Jefferson 10
Connecticut College led 2-1 after one quarter against Washington & Jefferson before outscoring its rival, 5-1, during the second quarter to establish control. Cress continued to pace the offense by scoring three of the team's four goals during a hot stretch.
The Camels, who led 7-2 at the break, never trailed and built up an 11-4 advantage when Cress found the back of the net at the 3:15 mark of the third quarter. Sophomore Rahul Gill (Bethesda, Md.) scored with 55 seconds left to later seal the final outcome.
Cress exploded to rack up a championship-record 10 goals in the match and finished the day with 14 markers to pace Connecticut College offensively. Netminders Matthew Wagman (Atlanta, Ga.) and Tanner Michaelis (Ramona, Calif.) combined to make 18 saves during the two games between the pipes.
Connecticut College (8-13) will next play in the fifth-place game against McKendree tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m.