M. Water Polo: Falcons finish second in conference play

Falcons finished second in conference play
Falcons finished second in conference play
Looking for their first South Coast Conference Tournament championship since 2016, the Cerritos College men's water polo team had to escape a close semifinal game against Mt. San Antonio College to earn a chance to face rival Long Beach City College in the finals. The Falcons (19-11) pulled out a 10-9 win over the Mounties on Thursday and then dropped a 19-10 game against the Vikings on Saturday. Cerritos will now wait to find out where they are seeded for the Southern California Regional Playoffs, which start next Thursday at Southwestern College.

Trailing 9-8 late in the fourth quarter against Mt. SAC in the semifinals, Cerritos was able to clamp down on defense, while they came up with a pair of huge goals to record the win. After Mt. SAC took a 9-8 lead with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter, sophomore Ben Neppl (Long Beach Millikan HS/Long Beach City College) tied the game on the team's next possession. The Falcons came up with a pair of defensive stances, with freshman goalkeeper Owen Fahringer (Long Beach Millikan HS) coming up with one of his 10 saves. In the team's final possession, sophomore Mario Vanzillotta (Colegio Palas, Brazil)  received the ball on the right side of the net and fired a shot past Mounties goalkeeper Noah Stark with :15 seconds left, with what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Cerritos was able to prevent the Mounties from getting a game-tying shot and advanced to the championship game.

Sophomore Seamus MacDonald (Long Beach Millikan HS) led the team with three goals, while sophomore Joey Hurtado (Cerritos HS) posted a pair of goals. Five other players scored once for the Falcons, with Vanzillotta leading the defense with four steals.
Against the Vikings, Cerritos found themselves down 6-1 after the first quarter and could never get any momentum going. Limited to just two goals in the first half, the Falcons did pick up their scoring in the third quarter with five goals. But LBCC countered with seven goals, while it was more of the same in the fourth quarter, as Cerritos was outscored, 4-3. 

Hernandez and Vanzillotta each scored three times for Cerritos, but it was 14 turnovers that hurt the team's chances. Vanzillotta also recorded a trio of steals, with MacDonald and Fahringer both posting a pair of steals.