By Mark Powers
The top seeded CB men’s water polo rose early and headed to Lodi to take on the Oakdale Mustangs with a spot in the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section championship on the line. The Falcons won the opening sprint to kick off the game, but that was really the only thing that went right for the Falcons in the first quarter. CB looked like they still wished they were in bed, allowing the Mustangs to draw five exclusions in the first quarter. But thanks to clutch saves by goalie Luc Versperien (’19), the Mustangs were held to just one goal in the first quarter and took a 1-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Falcons finally began to wake up in the second quarter, as sophomore sensation Sam Noonan (’20) sprinted down the pool, turned his man, and fired the ball cross cage to tie the game at 1-1. The offenses for both teams continued to struggle in the second quarter, as the Falcons struggled to put shots on cage after working to get good scoring chances. An epidemic of illness ran through the Falcons in recent days and affected their play throughout the game, as many of the teams’ most important players struggled with illness throughout the game.
Left handed sniper Jason Carrey (’18), who had been silenced for much of the first half, came alive with just one minute to go in the first half, blasting a shot from 7 meters past the goalie and put the Falcons up 2-1 at the half. The Mustangs came out in the third quarter ready to go with Falcons’ starters Noonan, Piper, and Carrey all on the bench with two ejections and in danger of being rolled (kicked out of the game for good) with a third ejection. The Mustangs scored twice in the third and took a 3-2 lead into the fourth. The fourth quarter started slowly for both offenses, and as each second ticked away the reality of a potential early playoff exit became more real for the Falcons.
As the clock ticked under five minutes to play, Carrey decided it was time to make a play and drew a foul at six meters and scored into the low corner, tying the game at 3-3. The run of ejections against the Falcons continued for the whole game and was capped off by Noonan’s third ejection, this time for getting tangled up with a Mustang defender. Noonan’s third ejection got him disqualified for the rest of the game, leaving the Falcons without one of their top goal scorers with three minutes to go in a tie game. Center Nick Piper (’19), who fell ill before the match, got back in the game for the fourth and snagged a beautiful wet pass from Owen Clark (’19) and finished with ease, giving the Falcons the lead with two minutes to play.
After a great save by Verspieren, Carrey drove to four meters and posted up his defender, received the pass and gave the Falcons some much needed insurance with a cross cage bullet that beat the goalie and gave the Falcons a decisive 5-3 lead with just 59 seconds to go. The Falcons got two stops on defense and secured a berth in Saturday’s championship game, where the Falcons will take on Sonora for the second straight year with the Division III Sac Joaquin Section Championship on the line. The Falcons are 2-1 against Sonora this season and will look to become back-to-back section champions at 9:30 AM on Saturday at American River College. Go out to ARC on Saturday and support your boys!