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College men's water polo: Jaguars making waves in 2012 Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 28 2012 01:28 PM

The Southwestern College men’s water polo team is making strides, no doubt about that.

Take Monday’s Pacific Coast Athletic Conference game against longtime power Grossmont as an example.

The Griffins won, 10-5, and were pressed most of the game to get what they did.

Grossmont met Southwestern three times in 2011, winning by scores of 23-4, 17-5 and 24-9.

The Griffins swept all three meetings in 2010 as well. The scores: 20-9, 18-4 and 25-6.

Grossmont held a 4-1 lead after the opening quarter on Monday.

“This game shows the progress we’ve made but it was also frustrating because of the mistakes we made,” SWC coach Jorge Ortega said.

This clearly isn’t last year’s Jaguars squad that went 8-16 or the 2010 Southwestern team that finished 1-24.

Monday’s loss dropped the Jags to 8-6 on the season, 0-2 in conference play (SWC dropped a hotly contested 14-10 decision to San Diego Mesa on Sept. 12).

SWC’s 8-4 record in three consecutive tournaments speaks better of its showing in 2012.

“We won both our games on Saturday to close out the San Diego Mesa tournament (with a 3-1 record) — it showed our team was fighting to the end,” Ortega said. “It shows how much our guys are in shape.”

The Jags defeated Chaffey (14-5), Fullerton (8-7) and El Camino (5-3) last weekend after opening with a loss to Santa Ana by a narrow 11-10 margin.

Southwestern finished 2-2 at the Mt. SAC tournament on Sept. 14-15. Ortega said it was the Jaguars’ best showing at that tournament in years.

SWC opened the season with a 3-1 outing at the Citrus tournament Sept. 8-9.

The Jags have two more home games left: Oct. 10 against Mesa and Oct. 24 against Palomar.

Southwestern’s Ian Muhlbach (Eastlake) and Palomar’s Rhett Turvey (Vista) are in a battle for the state’s goal-scoring lead.

Turvey entered the week with 48 goals in eight games; Muhlbach scored twice in Monday’s game to give him 45 goals in 14 games.

Muhlbach remains the state’s steals leader with 46.

The Eastlake grad shared recent PCAC Player of the Week honors with SWC soccer player Marco Carrillo Leon (Mar Vista).

Leon, a freshman, earned his share of the award by scoring all three goals in a 3-1 victory against Riverside on Sept. 11 and following that up with a goal and assist in a 3-0 win over San Bernardino Valley three days later.

Muhlbach, a sophomore, tallied 32 goals, 10 assists and 22 steals in the Jags’ 5-4 start to attract attention.

“It’s great,” the EHS grad said. “I’ve been working hard. It’s nice to get some recognition for it.”

Also earning their share of recognition on this year’s SWC team are a slew of local products.

Justin Patacsil (Mar Vista) ranks second on the Jaguars with 34 goals, followed by Manny Gambino (Chula Vista) with 13, Stuart Sokil (Hilltop) with 11, Phillip Kyler (Monte Vista) with nine, Dane Schmidt (Bonita Vista) with eight, Rodrigo Perez (Hilltop) with six, Eduardo Alvarez (Southwest) with three and Ariel Montellano (Bonita Vista) with one.

Gambino, a sophomore, scored twice in Monday’s game. He entered the week third on the team with 27 steals (behind Patacsil’s 29 and Muhlbach’s 42).

Goalie Rhett Pitcock (Eastlake) took over the lead in the state with 110 saves — five more than Citrus College’s Andy Perez.

Pitcock, a freshman, was credited with six saves on Monday, including four in the second half that kept Southwestern within striking distance.

Red alert
Muhlbach finished the 2011 season with 78 goals, 30 assists and 110 steals to earn first team all-conference honors.

Gambino tallied 18 goals, 18 assists and 29 steals to receive honorable mention recognition in 2011.

Schmidt, another sophomore, was a second team all-conference pick in 2010 based on his 32 goals, 11 assists and 49 steals.
The team’s impact newcomers, according to Ortega, include Sokil,  Perez, Pitcock, Patacsil and Kyler.

“We are expecting one of the most successful seasons in SWC history,” Ortega explained. “This year has to be one of the strongest incoming freshman classes (we’ve had). Two of our goals are to finish top three in (the standings) heading into the conference tournament and play in the championship game — none of which has been accomplished at SWC.”

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