RIVERSIDE -- Against some of the top teams in the state, the Orange Coast College men's water polo team more than held its own this past weekend at the Riverside City College Men's Water Polo Tournament.
The Pirates (9-5) went 2-2 over the weekend and according to head coach Adam Lee, they have continued to trend upward as the 2017 season continues. "We really have improved a tremendous amount in the past month," Lee said. "This weekend, we had great team play by OCC."
In Friday's opener, Coast took on perinneal powerhouse Long Beach City College and the Pirates pushed the Vikings right down to the final horn. With a solid defense anchoring the back end, OCC held the Vikings to their second-lowest scoring output of the season and despite the 7-6 defeat, several positives were taken from that matchup. Eduardo Wainberg scored three goals for the Pirates, while Andrew Holloran, Jacob Petersen and Gerardo Garcia each added one goal. Goalie Gavin Gray was solid with six saves and a team-best three steals.
OCC's strong play continued into its second game of the day against Diablo Valley, where Coast rolled to a 22-10 win, the most goals allowed by the Vikings in 2017. Ten different Pirates scored goals in the blowout, including Gabriele Simonti, who led the way with five to go along with two assists. Wainberg scored four goals (four assists), while Petersen and Holloran each scored three. Gray was all over the action with eight saves, two steals and four assists.
In Saturday's opener, the Pirates took on state kingpin Golden West and silenced the Rustlers for most of the first half as they carried a 6-3 lead on the defending state champs. GWC rallied for a 13-11 win, but Pirates showed vast improvements from their previous meeting with the Rustlers (a 16-4 loss back on Sept. 20). Simonti led the offense again with four goals, while Wainberg added three and Holloran and Peterson each tossed in two. Gray turned in another strong performance with seven saves.
Coast's strong tournament wrapped up with a 14-7 win over Grossmont. Simonti had five goals, two steals and two assists, while Wainberg added three goals and two steals. Gray notched six saves (27 for the weekend) to go along with two steals and an assist.
OCC will return to Orange Empire Conference action on Wednesday with a crucial matchup at Riverside, beginning at 3 p.m.