The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s water polo team (7-1, 6-0 SCIAC) pulled out a dramatic win against the Whittier Poets (4-8, 2-1 SCIAC) Saturday, Sept. 29 after William Clark CM ’22 scored to break a 10-10 tie with three seconds on the clock. The Stags then came back Oct. 3 to take two more decisive SCIAC wins against La Verne (3-12, 2-3 SCIAC) and Caltech (1-9, 0-4 SCIAC) at home, extending their winning streak to six.
“The expectation before the [Whittier] game was that we knew they were a good team,” Ethan Lewis CM ’20 said. “I think some of us may have been a little nervous but also really excited because we haven’t gotten to play a team as physical as us, and it was good to play a different, more aggressive style of water polo.”
While the Stags were behind 5-4 at halftime, they returned to the pool with heightened energy and were able to rally for the win. Nick Britt CM ’21 was influential in the second half success, and produced a hat trick in the third quarter to give the Stags their first lead of the game.
While the Poets fought back, leaving the game at a 10-10 tie in the remaining minutes, Clark was able to secure the win in dramatic fashion.
“Younger guys like [Clark] and [Britt] have really stepped up, and both did some amazing things yesterday,” captain Zack Rossman CM ’20 said.
The Stags have seen lots of younger players step up this season, as three-quarters of the roster is made up of underclassmen, and they only carry one senior.
“It’s really a team effort,” Lewis said. “As upperclassmen, we try to take a really open approach to leadership.”
A strong team effort and leadership from upperclassmen like Rossman and Lewis on Wednesday, Oct 3 earned the Stags an (11-7) victory over La Verne and a (16-6) victory over Caltech.
Lewis and Rossman highlighted a new emphasis on recruiting that has allowed the team to start with strong first-years, and that will continue to support the growth of the program.
The pair also stressed the hard work the team puts into practice to achieve their goals.
“I’d say our fitness is one of our biggest assets,” Lewis said. “Our coach does a really good job in practice having us wrestling and working on functional skills.”
“In practices, our scrimmages are really intense, and we practice hard against each other,” Rossman said. “Our team’s depth with all the young players and the freshman who are all really good helps make practice like a gamelike scenario.”
While the Stags are competitive in practice and games, they are also a very close-knit team outside of the pool. “Everyone is super close, not only because we are on the team together, but we also spend a lot of time together outside of water polo, going to meals and studying,” said center CJ Box CM ’21.
This combination of strong team chemistry and hard work has brought the Stags to first place in SCIAC. They are riding a six-game winning streak, which they hope to extend when they face Navy (11-6) and Penn St. Behrend (11-7) at home Friday, Oct. 5.
This article was last updated Oct. 4.