WHITTIER, Calif. — The University of La Verne men's water polo team claimed the season opener against Grossmont and dropped a close decision to Concordia (Calif.) at Whittier Open on Sept. 5-6.
Game 1: La Verne 23, Grossmont 7
Bryan Jimenez score six goals, Francisco Gonzalez notched a hat trick and the Leopards thrashed Grossmont, 23-7.
Jimenez added three goals in the second and the Leopards poured in nine goals in the second quarter to take a commanding 15-4 lead into the break.
The teams traded goals in third quarter but the Leopards exploded for six more goals in the final frame to put the game away.
Jake Casey led Grossmont with three goals.
Game 2: Concordia (Calif.) 14, La Verne 11
In a sign of how much the Leopards have improved since last year, the Leopards led NAIA scholarship Concordia for most of the game until faltering late in a 14-11 loss. The Eagles beat the Leopards, 19-4, last year at Lancer Invitational in a game that wasn't close.
Jimenez came up big with three goals in the first quarter to help the Leopards keep pace with the Eagles. Jimenez scored La Verne's first three goals and Huening got on the board with just two seconds remaining in the quarter tie the game at 4-4 at the end of first.
Hopley gave the lead back to La Verne about a minute into the second quarter and the Leopards held it until the fourth quarter. The Eagles tied it at 6-6 midway to second, but Troy Williams beat the buzzer to put the Leopards back up at halftime. The Leopards extended their lead to two goals in the third.
But after holding the Eagles off for so long, the Leopards just seemed to have run out of gas in the fourth. The Eagles scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 10 and put in four goals in the last four minutes to escape with the win.
Jimenez tied for a game-high four goals. Williams and Hopley had two goals each.
The Leopards return to action this weekend as they co-host the annual Inland Empire Classic at La Verne Aquatic Center. The Leopards will face Cal Baptist, Concordia, USC and Occidental on Sept. 12-13.