By Tyler Nelson
Riverside City College men’s water polo were defeated 16-8 by Golden West College on Oct. 26
Having lost earlier in the season to Golden West 18-4, Coach Jason Northcott knew his team would have their hands full, “Golden West is undoubtedly the best team in the state,” Northcott said. “I don’t want to make any excuses, and it’s good to play teams like this because by the end of the year, we’ll be a better team the next time we play them when it matters the most.”
The Rustlers proved their No. 1 ranking by coming out of the gate strong, scoring three straight goals in the first quarter, but the Tigers played strong themselves and limited Golden West to only six goals in the first half at 2-6.
Some of the credit has to go towards freshman goalkeeper Kristopher McVeigh, whose performance allowed the Tigers to stay within pouncing distance. In total, McVeigh would have 12 saves and four steals against the Rustlers.
The second half of the game was a different story, and Golden West would reign supreme.
The Tigers were the ones to strike first in the second quarter as captain Jonah Saenz threw a laser into the back of the net. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t phase Golden West.
The Rustlers would strike right back with three scores against the Tigers. The Tigers defense lacked effort and freshman Hunter Starkey believes the team still needs to work on it.
“I think our defense could improve,” Starkey said. “We came out a little jittery and if we kept attacking on offense and defense, the game would have been a lot closer.”
Besides the lack of effort on defense, the Tigers shot themselves in the foot consistently during the game due to penalties. RCC allowed Golden West to score five goals off these penalties. These penalties allowed Golden West to take advantage of the Tigers being down a man for each penalty.
By the end of the game, the Tigers could not overcome their mistakes and Golden West would keep their No. 1 ranking.
Although the Tigers lost, coach Northcott saw many positives to take away from the game.
“We need to be thriving knowing that we’re competing against top competition in the state,” Northcott said. “Today is not state finals, in a month it will be, and we’ll be more ready by then.”
The Tigers have lost three straight games to close their regular season. Starkey, however, was not phased at all, “We need to get over those games against Golden West and Long Beach,” Starkey said. “We just need to practice harder and give it our all for every second.”
The RCC Tigers finished their season with an overall record of 16-8. RCC will play against Santa Ana College for the Orange Empire Conference at Saddleback College on Nov. 3 at 10:20 a.m.