Stags Challenge Themselves Against DI Competition

The CMS men’s water polo team (0-7, 0-0
SCIAC) traveled to University of La Verne on Sept. 13 and 14 to compete in the Inland Empire Tournament and test
themselves against tough competition. Although they weren’t able to pull out a win over the weekend, the Stags were still able to gain invaluable experience at the beginning of their season. 

CMS began the tournament with a non-conference game against
conference opponent La Verne on Sept. 13. The team enjoyed a great start to the game, sparked by
a goal from utility player Mark Nietzel CM ’15 within the first 30 seconds of the game. Attacker Tanner Cullen CM ’16 dominated for the remainder of the quarter, scoring four goals
to bring the Stag lead to 5-2 after the first quarter. The Stags were unable to keep up the momentum, however, and after two close quarters, La Verne was able to pull ahead for the first time in the fourth quarter to edge the Stags 13-10.

After the
rough start against La Verne, the team reevaluated its position and mentality
going into the next game against the Air Force Academy, a Division I school.  

According
to utility player Ellison Taylor CM ’16, the players decided to “stop playing as
individuals” and “redefined what it means to play as a team.”

The team switched
its game plan to a traditional soft-press strategy, consisting of helping each other out
while still maintaining close, man-to-man coverage. Taylor felt that they played
a “better game” against Air Force than La Verne.

Despite the
adjustments, a similar story played out for the Stags. Once again, CMS started
off with a strong first quarter, outscoring the Falcons 4-1, but Air Force
turned the tides in the second quarter, and CMS lost a closely contested match
11-9.

On Sept. 14, CMS faced off against University of California, Los Angeles—the No. 2 team in the nation. CMS played a fantastic game, managing
to keep the score at a very manageable 6-3 heading into halftime. In the second half of the game, UCLA scored four fourth-quarter goals to pull ahead and defeat the Stags 13-7. 

Despite the loss, CMS
was still able to fare better than La Verne, which lost to UCLA 23-2. Taylor
believes that, despite some fatigue in the second half, the Stags still played
their “best game of water polo” that he has seen.

In the Stags’ final play of the weekend against No. 6 Long Beach State University, CMS suffered a blow when Cullen suffered a neck injury that forced him to come out of the game, costing
the Stags a key player. Long Beach State pushed the Stags in a tough game and
eventually defeated CMS. Despite exhaustion after a long weekend, the Stags
continued to focus on defense and improved their game immeasurably,
incorporating new athletes into game play. 

The Stags, despite losses, strategized and worked out the kinks in their games this weekend. Coach Greg Lonzo
helped focus the players on team-oriented play in post-game meetings. The Stags
were able to store up their defensive play and have set themselves up for what
should be an exciting season.

CMS will see action again today, Sept. 19, in the Lancer Invite in Riverside, Calif., against Fresno Pacific University and
Concordia University, Irvine. 

Facebook Comments

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply