The Saddleback men’s water polo season finished with a bang as the Gauchos defeated Santa Ana College, 14-5, on Saturday in the fifth place game of the Orange Empire Conference championships. After a slow start to the season, Saddleback won 11 of its last 15 games to finish 12-9 overall.
The Gauchos looked like a team in disarray when they fell to Fullerton College 14-5 on September 29, dropping them to 1-5 overall to start the season. Things made a significant turnaround during the final 15 games of the season, however, as Saddleback finished strong, winning seven of its last eight games of the season, including the win on Saturday.
Matthew Villanueva led the charge for the Gauchos, scoring four goals as Saddleback cruised to the easy victory. The Gauchos held a 6-2 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, leading 10-2 entering the final quarter of play. At one point Saddleback scored eight straight goals, holding the Dons scoreless for nearly 18 minutes of action.
The 12-9 finish to the season is the second best finish for the Gauchos since 2001. Saddleback was 17-10 in 2008, finishing fifth in Southern California.
Just one week after toppling the Orange Coast College Pirates in a conference game, 6-4, to earn the higher seed in the Orange Empire Conference tournament, the Saddleback men's water polo team fell to the same Pirate squad by an 8-5 count in the opening round of the conference tournament on Thursday.
The loss will automatically pit the Gauchos against the loser of the Riverside vs. Santa Ana quarterfinal in the fifth place game scheduled for Saturday, November 6, at 10:15 a.m.
The men’s water polo team continued its hot streak with a 14-10 win over Santa Ana College on Wednesday. It was the fourth win in five games for the Gauchos, who now stand at 5-6 on the season.
Saddleback trailed 5-3 in the second quarter before going on a run to take a 6-5 lead at halftime. The Dons would fight back, however, tying the score at 8-8 after three quarters of play. The Gauchos then settled down, outscoring Santa Ana 6-2 in the final quarter to improve to 5-6 overall and 1-2 in Orange Empire Conference play.
Paul Schneringer (pictured left) led the Gauchos with four goals in the contest while Matthew Villanueva (pictured right) added three goals in the win.
Saddleback will have the rest of the week off before playing at Riverside College next Wednesday.
The Saddleback men’s water polo team had a fine opening day of the Saddleback Invitational with back-to-back wins over Santa Monica College and El Camino College. The Gauchos will play Santa Ana College and Palomar College on Saturday.
Saddleback held an 8-5 lead at halftime in the opening game against Santa Monica before dominating the second half in a 13-5 win over the Corsairs. Paul Schneringer (pictured) scored three third quarter goals in leading the Gauchos with five goals in the match.
Schneringer then scored four goals in the opening quarter of the afternoon match against El Camino and Saddleback darted out to a 7-1 lead against the Warriors. The Gauchos ended up beating El Camino 17-7 to improve to 2-0 in the tournament on Friday.
Saddleback will take on Santa Ana College and Palomar College on Saturday. The Gauchos are now 3-4 on the season.