OCC defensive woes lead to defeat

Attacker Dane Howell powers up for a penalty shot that gave him his second goal of the day in a 17-5 loss to Saddleback on Wednesday. 

The Orange Coast College men’s water polo team fell to Orange Empire Conference opponent Saddleback 17-5 on Wednesday. 

The first period of the match started well for OCC, with a beautiful long shot by attacker Caden Carpenter. With the first goal on the board for the Pirates just 38 seconds into the game, the Pirates were looking good. This didn’t last long as Saddleback scored three unanswered goals, setting the tone for the next three periods. OCC attacker Dane Howell did get one goal back with six seconds left to end the first period 3-2. 

Saddleback’s Andrew Barnuevo came out on fire to start the second period scoring four goals in a row, all unassisted. The Pirates' struggles continued to unfold, seeing only one goal from Howell’s penalty shot. Saddleback expanded their lead to five going into the half up 8-3. 

Coming out of halftime, OCC did open up the scoring once again with another goal from Carpenter. However, Saddleback did not slow down either and they continued to dominate on both sides of the ball once again. The Gauchos’ swarming defense never allowed the Pirates any chance of getting a close shot at goal. To make matters worse they kept on producing one-on-one chances with OCC’s keeper Ethan Harris. OCC got one goal back towards the end of the third by Howell to complete his hat-trick. 

With an 11-5 lead to start the fourth period, Saddleback continued to use its momentum to pour on goals. OCC fully collapsed, unable to stop any shot on goal or put together any offense. Overthrown passes and lack of communication led to the demise and was the overarching theme for the Pirates.

Following the 17-5 defeat, OCC moves to 9-4 on the season, while Saddleback improves to 13-3. Howell and Carpenter were the only bright spots for the Pirates as they combined for all five goals. 

The men’s team plays Thursday and Friday this week in back-to-back conference games against Cypress College and Fullerton College.

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