LA VERNE, Calif. — Matthew Vega notched a hat trick, Christian Ortiz made a flurry of critical saves in the fourth quarter and the University of La Verne men's water polo team defeated Occidental, 11-8, on Wednesday at La Verne Aquatics Center.
La Verne improves to 2-3 in SCIAC play and Occidental falls to 0-5.
A quick 3-0 third quarter run proved to the difference. After Oxy's Taylor Russell opened the second half scoring to bring the Tigers within one, Aaron Avalos, Andrew Phillips and Josh Vega rattled off consecutive goals in less than 90 seconds to pull the Leopards away from the Tigers.
Sam Akiyama scored with a second remaining in the third to stem the tide, but the Leopards kept the Tigers at bay. Matthew Vega found the net just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter and Jonathon Jarvis and Viken Huening added finishing touches.
The Tigers peppered La Verne's goal throughout the fourth quarter but Christian Ortiz came up big time and time again to preserve the win for La Verne.
The Leopards looked sluggish to start as Oxy took an early 2-0 lead and the offense struggled to execute. But Bryan Jimenez broke La Verne's seal at the 4:31 mark in the first and Jared Hopley scored a power play goal to tie the game at 2-2 going into the second quarter.
The Vega brothers continued the momentum in the second quarter as each scored one to give the Leopards a 4-2 cushion. The defense also stood tall, allowing just one goal to the Tigers in the frame, and La Verne took a 5-3 lead into the break.
Matthew Vega had a game-high three goals, Josh Vega was right behind with two and six other Leopards got on the board with one goal apiece.
The Leopards return to action on Saturday at Pomona-Pitzer. The first sprint is scheduled at 11 a.m.Follow La Verne Athletics on Twitter @ULV_Athletics Like La Verne Athletics on Facebook Follow La Verne Athletics on Instagram @ULV_Athletics Sign up for our newsletter