RIVERSIDE -- Going up against some of the toughest teams in the state, the Orange Coast College men's water polo team proved once again they are a team to be reckoned with come postseason time with a solid effort at the Riverside City College Tournament this past weekend.
In the opener, Coast took on Cerritos (13-4) and rolled past the Falcons, 15-5. Coast used a strong first half and outscored Cerritos, 11-2 in that span to cruise to victory. Nicholas Fichman scored five goals to lead the OCC offense, while Gabriele Simonti, Eduardo Wainberg, Tanner Sprague and Luke Rhone each scored twice.
In goal, Connor Halloran was solid, allowing only five goals while coming up with eight big saves.
In the second match, Coast battled Long Beach (10-4) in one of the toughest matches of the tournament. Coast fell behind to the Vikings 7-3 before putting on a strong showing in the fourth quarter, nearly drawing even with one of the top-ranked teams in the region.
In the end, the Pirates came up a goal short and fell, 8-7. Wainberg led the way with three goals, while Fichman added two goals. Luke Rhone and Gera Garcia each found the back of the net once for OCC as well. In goal, the duo of Halloran and Steven Magdaleno combined for eight saves.
On Saturday, Coast had a rematch with another highly-ranked opponent, L.A. Valley College (14-3). It was another hard-fought battle and the Pirates more than held their own, but in the end, the Monarchs prevailed, 12-8. Fichman led the way with four goals, while Baumann tallied two goals. Magdaleno and Halloran again shared goalie duties the Pirate duo combined for 12 saves.
In the finale, Coast took on fellow Orange Empire Conference neighbor and tournament host Riverside City College. With both teams tied at 6 heading into the final quarter, Luke Rhone put the Pirates in front, 7-6 before the Tigers evened the score once again with 5:08 remaining. Finally, with 2:03 left, Garcia fired a shot that found the back of the net to put the Pirates up, 8-7. From there, the OCC defense clamped down and the Pirates prevailed to earn a split in the four-match tournament.
Rhone and Baumann each had two goals, while Garcia, Fichman, Wainberg and Sprague each scored once.
Magadeleno went the distance in goal for the Pirates and picked up nine saves to preserve the win for Coast.
The Pirates will return to Orange Empire Conference action on Wednesday at home against Saddleback, beginning at 4 p.m.