Sagehens Too Much for Athenas

Entering the SCIAC tournament as the No. 2 seed, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s water polo team got past Chapman University and Whittier College to face Pomona-Pitzer in finals of the SCIAC Championships. CMS blew past No. 7 Chapman (11-24, 4-8 SCIAC) with a 12-6 victory on Friday, April 25 and then held off No. 3 Whittier (22-16, 9-2 SCIAC) 9-7 in semifinals on Saturday, April 26, but could not match the force of the Sagehens in the finals on Sunday, April 27, falling 4-7. CMS ended their season with a record of 17-13 overall and 9-2 in the SCIAC. 

For the first round of playoffs, the Athenas came out hot from the start by scoring the first two goals of the match against Chapman on Friday. Candace Filippelli CM ’14 and Rose Koper CM ’15 scored the two early goals, which kept CMS tied with the Panthers after the first quarter. CMS then took back the lead immediately, starting the second quarter with another two goals by Candace Filippelli. They went into halftime with a 4-3 lead and never looked back the rest of the game.

“[Our goal was] to play our game, not let the pace of the other opponents dictate how we were going to play, and just play smart,” Alyssa Filippelli CM ’14 said. 

Alex Toohey CM ’14 started the Athenas off in the second half with her first goal. Then, Shannon Golden CM ’17 followed Toohey's lead, adding a goal. Chapman took a timeout and responded by bringing CMS’ lead back to one point, but Toohey and Alyssa Filippelli gave the Athenas the 8-5 lead going into the fourth. 

The Panthers appeared to be inching their way back into the game, but CMS continued to respond with goals of their own, keeping the game in their control. The Athenas closed out the match on a 4-1 run to win 12-6, advancing to the semifinal match. 

Candace Filippelli and Toohey led the team with four goals each, and goalie Allison Hu CM ’15 racked up nine saves. 

On Saturday, the Athenas took on No. 3 seeded host Whitter in the semifinals. Once again, Candace Filippelli set the tone for her team by scoring the first goal of the match. Koper’s goal put the Athenas up 2-0 at the end of the first quarter. Candace Filippelli and Haley Conner CM ’15 scored early in the second quarter, but two late goals by the Poets cut the Athenas’ lead to 4-2 going into halftime. 

The Poets continued using their home-court advantage to gain momentum coming out of halftime to tie the game 4-4 with 5:43 remaining in the third. CMS went scoreless for the last four minutes of the quarter after a goal by Golden, and the score remained tied 6-6 going into the fourth quarter. 

In the fourth quarter, however, Alyssa Filippelli gave the Athenas the lead 20 seconds in, but Whittier was able to force a tie on a power play with 6:28 on the clock. After going almost four minutes without scoring, CMS called a timeout and, with 2:30 remaining, scored on a power play by Alyssa Filippelli, her third of the match. Conner then sealed the deal with a goal at 1:32, giving the Athenas the 9-7 victory and sending them into a rematch with P-P in the SCIAC Championship. 

The Athenas were pleased just to have made it out of the semifinals game, something they hadn’t accomplished for years, and felt confident and more at ease heading into the game against P-P. 

“They have to defend their title," Golden said. "We didn’t have the pressure on us. [Our coach] was just like, 'Let’s go out here and have fun.' He said he was so proud of us so far.” 

Although the Athenas did not come home with a championship, they were still proud for sticking together as a team until the very end.  

“I think the season overall was great," Alyssa Filippelli said. "It didn’t turn out exactly how we wanted it to in the end, but we became great players together as a team. We started out as individual players and were able to build amazing chemistry that really showed, especially in championships.” 

After beginning the season with five straight losses against non-conference competition, the Athenas found their groove and were able to finish with a 9-2 SCIAC record and a 17-13 overall record, with their only conference losses coming from P-P. 

“We didn’t win Championships, but I’m still proud of what we accomplished because we came farther than most teams have in a long time,” Alyssa Filippelli said. 

The season was also capped off by some individual recognition for CMS; four Athenas received SCIAC honors. Candace Filippelli earned Player of the Year, while Toohey and Hu were named to the First Team, and Alyssa Filippelli was named to the Second Team.

CMS graduates five seniors this year: Kelly Davis SC '14, Candace Filippelli, Alyssa Filippelli, Meghan Jimenez HM '14, and Toohey. The team will look to move forward and improve on their strong finish as they head into their next season.