#5 Men's Water Polo Cruises In Opener, 23-5

Kale Ai (photo by Meghan Laurel Photography)
Kale Ai (photo by Meghan Laurel Photography)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The No. 5 Pacific men's water polo team opened the 2017 season with a 23-5 rout of  No. 14 Bucknell at the Brown Bruno Classic Saturday. Kale Ai posted a 10-point game with six goals and four assists.

The Tigers racked up 23 goals as Luke Pavillard added five, Engin Ege Colak four, and Luis Araya and Devon Thumwood each added three. Andres Schmidt and Eli Lule also added markers.

Araya led Pacific with five assists, while Pavillard and Thumwood handed out three each behind Ai's four. Goalie John Hedges also provided a pair of assists.

With five players and head coach James Graham scattered among various nations at the World University Games, the Tigers were unable to practice as a whole during preseason training, making Saturday's opened Graham's first look at his entire squad together. He liked what he saw in the opening quarter as Pacific jumped out to a 7-1 lead.

Pavillard opened the scoring with three straight goals, and after Tommy Stupp put Bucknell on the board the Tigers closed the first quarter with four goals in the final 2:40 of the period. Pavillard set up Colak for his first goal, and Kale Ai tallied to make it 5-1. Colak added a 6-on-5 goal, and Thumwood converted off a long pass from goalie John Hedges for a 7-1 lead.

In the second, Colak tallied two more goals as Pacific led 9-1 before the Bison's Cullen Jacuzzi warmed up and scored two goals, with an Araya goal sandwiched between. Araya answered for a 10-3 lead before Pavillard's fourth goal and Ai tallied back to back for a 14-3 lead at halftime.

Bucknell picked up two goals in the third, while Araya, Ai and Pavillard each scored as the Tigers led 17-5 after three.

In the fourth, the Tigers stretched the margin with a 6-0 frame, with Thumwood scoring twice and setting up goals from Luli and Ai. Derek Clappis fed Schmidt for the game's final goal.

John Hedges made three saves in goal with five steals, while Ethan Hansen played the final 3:06 in the cage, allowing no goals with his first save.

Pacific (1-0) will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. PT against Wagner.