The Saddleback College men’s water polo team picked up four victories over the weekend in its own tournament, helping the Gauchos to even out its record at 12-12 overall this season heading into the Orange Empire Conference championships this weekend in Riverside.
Saddleback defeated Southwestern by a 12-4 count on Friday as Paul Schneringer tallied four goals and Matt Villanueva added three. The Gauchos then added a 15-9 victory over Santa Monica in the late game on Friday evening with Schneringer scoring six goals and Villanueva four with Cody Casey adding two.
The Gauchos continued to play well on Saturday with a 13-9 victory over Miramar in the opening-game of the day as Villanueva led the team with five goals and Devon Hakala and Schneringer eaching getting two goals. Saddleback closed out the tournament with a 17-7 triumph over El Camino College as Villanueva tallied six scores and Schneringer added four with Casey accounting for three and both Mike Correll and Sam Mueller netting two apiece.
The Gauchos (12-12, 1-4 in OEC) will participate in the OEC Championship tournament at Riverside this Friday and Saturday. Saddleback will need a victory in the first round against Fullerton on Friday in order to have a shot at a post-season bid. The Gauchos lost to Fullerton in the conference matchup, 14-4, but bounced back to defeat the Hornets in the Golden West Tournament just two days later, 12-11.
The Saddleback men's water polo team won a pair of one-goal games on Friday during the first day of the first Gaucho Invitational Tournament (the team hosts two tournaments each season), then lost twice on Saturday, including a heartbreaker by a single goal, to finish 2-2 in the event.
Paul Schneringer posted six goals - including two goals in the fourth quarter and both goals in overtime - as Saddleback beat Santa Monica, 16-15, in overtime of its first game.
After jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the first quarter, the Gauchos found themselves tied with the Corsairs, 7-7, at halftime and 14-14 at the end of regulation. Santa Monica scored first in overtime, but the Saddleback defense put up strong pressure after that and Schneringer netted two balls to give the Gauchos the victory. Matt Villanueva added five goals and Cody Casey scored four goals.
Saddleback added a tight 14-13 victory over Merced in the afternoon contest. With Villanueva sitting out, Schneringer tallied eight goals while Casey added three goals and Devon Hakala scoring twice.
The Gauchos had a tough time handling San Diego Mesa on Saturday morning, falling to the Olympians 18-9. Villanueva tallied five goals with Schneringer adding three. Saddleback fought back in the afternoon contest against Palomar but ended up a goal short, 17-16. The Gauchos were down by one goal with under two minutes to play, but Palomar scored with 1:01 to play. Schneringer scored one of his team-leading six goals with 35 seconds on the clock, but the Gauchos couldn't add the equalizer before time expired. Villanueva recorded five goals in the setback.
Saddleback (4-7, 0-2) will travel to Golden West on Wednesday, Oct. 5, as the team returns to Orange Empire Conference play.
After splitting four games at the Mt. San Antonio tournament 10 days earlier, the Gauchos were anxious to see how they had improved in the past week or so. Wednesday's Orange Empire Conference game against visiting Orange Coast might be an indicator.
The Gauchos, who had lost to Orange Coast by a 19-7 count in their opening game of the Mt. SAC tournament, fell a second time to the Pirates on Wednesday by a 19-8 count. However, the Gauchos held a 2-1 advantage midway through the first quarter and had several opportunities to add to that lead but couldn't find the back of the net. Saddleback was able to convert more scoring chances in the second half but could not catch the Bucs.
Saddleback will be hosting the first of two tournaments this season when the Gauchos welcome seven visiting teams on Friday and Saturday for the Saddleback Invitational #1. The Gauchos will play Santa Monica at 12:50 p.m. on Friday in the first round. Games will run from 9:20 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.