ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University men's water polo team wrapped up its 2018 season with a pair of wins over Caltech and Air Force. The Panthers celebrated their seniors with a 16-7 win over Caltech in the SCIAC finale before a dramatic, 15-14 comeback win over Air Force.
GAME 1 – W, 16-7
The Panthers took control early with the first three goals of the match and never trailed to close out the SCIAC schedule with a win. Senior Holt Fundament scored a pair of goals and had three assists in the win while fellow senior Brady Hoskins had one goal and one assist.
Fundament got the Panthers on the board in the first and Chapman led 4-1 by the end of the opening quarter. Freshman Evan Belli scored Chapman's only goal of the second as Caltech cut into the lead for a 5-3 halftime score.
The Chapman attack put up 11 goals in the second half and Chapman ended the match on 5-0 run to pull away for the win. Junior Keith Kulick scored all four of his goals in the second half and sophomore Jack Gregov made 14 saves in goal.
GAME 2 – W, 15-14
Junior Cameron Genetti scored seven goals and freshman Graham Asalone broke Chapman's single season assists record in a dramatic comeback win. Chapman led for just 18 seconds the entire match but finished the season on a 3-0 run to overtake their Division I foes.
Junior Vasil Halchev came up clutch in the second half with two big goals. After Chapman had fallen behind 8-6 at halftime, Air Force scored back-to-back goals just before the five-minute mark in the third to extend its lead to 10-7.
The Panthers roared back as Genetti scored the next two goals to make it 10-9. Henry Yavitt responded for Air Force with 1:40 left in the third but Asalone scored just 27 seconds later and Halchev pushed in a goal with just 38 seconds left in the quarter to tie the match at 12-12.
Justin Harrison scored just seconds into the fourth quarter to regain the Air Force lead. After a few empty trips for both sides, Belli tied the match back up with 5:02 left. Reagan Pittman scored back-to-back goals to put Air Force back up 14-12 with just 4:01 left.
Genetti's seventh goal of the match regained some momentum for the Panthers. After a quick stop, a long pass was thrown to Asalone. He was fouled as he drove toward the goal and quickly reached over the defender, firing a deep shot just inside the near post to tie the match at 14-14 with 3:05 left.
Neither side could break the tie over the next couple of trips. Junior Wesley Hertel made 10 saves in the match and he came up with his final one during the crucial stretch. The Panthers fought off back-to-back exclusions with Belli coming away with a huge steal to end the last threat.
After an Air Force exclusion, the Panthers fired off a shot from the wing but it was saved by James Burke, who had 15 on the night. The rebound bounced directly in front of the cage where Halchev reached out and punched the loose ball into the back of the net with 18 seconds left.
Air Force had one final attempt but the shot came just after the buzzer as Chapman handed the Falcons their first loss to a Division III team this year.
With the win, Chapman ended the season on a high note and will return to the pool in 2019.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director