The men’s water polo team found out on Sunday that would still be hanging around the pool for awhile longer when it was announced that they would be the No. 10 seed for the upcoming Southern California playoffs, which start on Thursday. The Gauchos will take on Orange Empire Conference foe Orange Coast College at Pasadena City College on 2:30 PM.
Saddleback and Orange Coast have played four times this season and despite every match being close, the Gauchos have yet to win against the Pirates. The two teams met on Saturday in the OEC championships with Orange Coast winning, 11-8. Through four matches, the Pirates have outscored the Gauchos 53-38.
Saddleback enters the playoffs as the No.10 and with a win against Orange Coast on Thursday would advance to a quarterfinal match against No. 2 seed Long Beach City College on Friday at 5:45 PM. The Gauchos and Vikings have not met this season.
Saddleback enters the playoffs with an overall record of 13-12 on the season while Orange Coast is 19-9 entering the postseason.
The Saddleback men’s water polo team has been rolling as of late, winning five games last week and improving to 9-3 overall. The Gauchos have posted nine wins in their past 10 games, gearing up for the rugged OEC schedule ahead.
Saddleback finished 4-0 in the Saddleback Invitational, beating Santa Ana College, El Camino College, Santa Monica College and Palomar College by an aggregate score of 55-34. The Gauchos also posted a 13-10 win over Modesto College on Thursday, leading into the event.
The lone loss for the Gauchos in their past 10 outings was a 15-13 cliffhanger to Orange Coast College on September 30.
“The guys are playing great and improving every day,” head coach Pat Higginson said. “Hopefully we can keep in going in conference play.”
Saddleback has the week off before heading to Golden West for a match with the Rustlers on October 21.
Saddleback and Orange Coast battled for 32 minutes during an Orange Empire Conference game on Wednesday with the Gauchos leading by a goal for most of the contest. Orange Coast was able to fight back and take a lead midway through the fourth quarter and the teams exchanged goals in the waning minutes but it wouldn't be enough for Saddleback as Orange Coast posted the 15-13 win.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak by the Gauchos.
What started out as a dogfight in the first half turned into a rout in the second half as Saddleback used a counter-attack and a pair of 5-meter penalty shots to defeat Santa Ana, 15-5, in an Orange Empire Conference game at home.
Kevin Burzynski (pictured) and Kevin Mitchell led the Gauchos' offensive attack.
Saddleback will host two men's water polo tournaments during the month of October with the first tournament slated for Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3.
Modesto and Santa Monica will open the tournament at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, October 2, followed by El Camino and Palomar at 11:45 a.m. Saddleback will play Santa Ana at 1:00 p.m. The tournament continues until 5:30 p.m. on Friday and then resumes at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Tournament Bracket is located HERE.