Cullen’s Corner: Water polo update

Sage Zbinden | Zack Lowery, sophomore engineering major, swims aggressively towards his opponent, trying his best to intimated the opposing UCLA player.

Lost amid the buzz surrounding California Baptist University’s transition to NCAA Division I competition, DI men’s water polo is already putting the Lancers on the map without the pomp and circumstance of a competition jump.

At 17-9 overall, and 2-1 in the Western Water Polo Association, the 15th-ranked Lancers are finding ways to win big games and collect accolades.

This year’s squad has only lost to one unranked team thus far, including dropping a tight 12-10 match to then No. 8 University of California, Davis. Additionally, the Lancers have won six games over ranked opponents

After going 2-1 at their Lancer Joust event and falling short to top-ranked University of Southern Cal- ifornia, CBU downed No. 8 University of California, San Diego, on a last-second penalty shot.

Head coach Kevin Rosa referred to the match in a university press release as “the best game I have been a part of.”

The triumph over the Tritons tied the Lancers’ biggest upset ever. Its 10-9 victory is the second time CBU has toppled an eighth-ranked team after the 2016 Lancers edged the University of California, Irvine.

Now No. 15 in the nation, the Lancers were ranked 14th in week four, tied for the highest ranking in CBU’s NCAA era.

In Week 3 of the season, Christian Britton, sophomore business administration major and attacker, became the ninth player in program history to be awarded Western Water Polo Association Player of the Week honors.

The Lancers are no strangers to conference-leading performances as they hold the top spots in multiple WWPA statistics. CBU athletes occupy the top-four spots in assists. Additionally, Dominick Nevarez, Tanner Shore and Gabe Thorne lead the conference in points, steals and saves, respectively.

CBU now enters into the teeth of conference play, with four more WWPA matches this month. The Lancers will look to make a run in the WWPA tournament during mid-November, as they chase a spot in the tournament finals.

A place in the finals has been an elusive goal for the Lancers. CBU has now made three consecutive trips to the tournament semifinals and has lost those three matches by a mere four combined goals.

Could this be the year the Lancers turn the corner? That remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, this squad has proven its ability to make a splash on the national stage.

While the DI world gets its first impression of the rest of CBU’s athletics pro- gram, keep a close eye on the pool. Lancer water polo could be doing something special.

About Cullen Holt

Asst. Sports Editor

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