In their final match of the
regular season, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s water polo team overcame a two-goal deficit to take a 12-9 win over rival Pomona-Pitzer on Wednesday, Nov. 12. The loss shattered a three-game
win streak for the Sagehens, which included a triumphant win over the University of
La Verne (8-15, 2-5 SCIAC) last Saturday, Nov. 8.
Earlier in September, P-P (8-15, 4-3 SCIAC) lost to
La Verne 10-9 in a non-league match at the Inland Empire Classic. The
Sagehens wasted no time taking control of their most recent match, storming out to a 5-0 lead
and cruising to an easy 19-8 win over the Leopards.
Coming off of its victory,
P-P took the pool against CMS (11-13, 7-1 SCIAC) ready for a tough fight.
“We felt prepared for this game,”
James Baker PO ’17 said. “There are always nerves going into any conference
game, especially against our rivals. But we just focused on keeping calm and
playing our game.”
CMS also came to Wednesday’s game
with a recent win under their belt. In an impressive home match against Chapman
University (14-9, 5-2 SCIAC) on Saturday, Nov. 8, the Stags earned a
resounding 15-10 win over the Panthers, who were previously unbeaten in SCIAC play. Like the Sagehens, the Stags were ready for a dogfight in the rivalry game.
“I think we felt confident that we were the better team, but the Pomona-Pitzer game is always close so we knew that we needed to take it seriously,” Daniel Cogan CM ’16 said.
The Sagehens took an aggressive
start in the water, scoring in the second minute of the game. Adam
Hilborn CM ’16 broke the dry spell six minutes later, netting the first CMS goal
of the match.
The Hens were persistent during
the first half, never allowing CMS to take the lead. Each time the Stags evened the score, P-P would maintain pressure and pull ahead. The Sagehens took a 7-6
lead into halftime.
Similar to the game’s opening, the second half began with offensive play. In the opening minutes,
Nic Lanker PO ’17 shot the ball into the back of the net, stretching the P-P
lead to 8-6, the second two-goal lead of the night for the Hens.
However, the momentum of the game swung back
into the hands of CMS when the team scored on two six-on-five advantages during the
following two possessions, taking the lead with a goal from a penalty shot. The Stags followed with one more
goal before the buzzer of the third quarter and added another in their first possession
of the fourth to finish off a 5-0 run, gaining an 11-8 lead.
As always, the excitement of both the P-P and CMS crowds during the rivalry game kept the energy up in the water.
“Pomona-Pitzer is always a
competitive game,” CMS head coach Greg Lonzo said. “The crowd was bigger and more
exciting, which made this year’s game more enjoyable.”
In the remainder of the final quarter, P-P
had numerous opportunities to cut the lead but was only able to close in by
one goal to bring the score to 11-9. CMS responded with an insurance
goal made by Peter Tilton CM ’18 to put away the game at a final 12-9.
Although the Stags came out slow defensively in the first half, their second half defense played a crucial role in sealing the victory.
“We came out slowly defensively in the first half, giving up seven goals,” Cogan said. “Our offense was acceptable throughout the game, and a good defensive second half probably won us the game.”
Despite the loss, P-P was satisfied
with their strong start to the game.
“I think we played well in the
first half of the game. We made smart reads on offense and controlled them on
defense,” Baker said. “But in the second half we made some poor plays on
defense, which gave them some easy goals. From that point, we were on the defense
and failed to convert some key plays.”
In anticipation of their last
match before the SCIAC tournament, the Sagehens look ahead to building off
where they fell short against CMS.
“We have really been focusing on
playing together as a team and being on the same page on both offense and
defense,” Baker said. “But we have to focus on finishing the game the same way
we started it. Also, we need to work on finishing our six-on-five opportunities.”
At the beginning of the game, CMS
senior players James Kelly CM ’15, Mark Nietzel CM ’15, Charles McGregor CM ’15 and Scott Anderson CM ’15 were honored before taking the water with their teammates. A celebratory win over
their Sixth Street rival marked a glorious last match of the season in
their home pool.
Their well-earned win secured the
Stags the second seed in the conference tournament starting Nov. 21 at University of Redlands, where they hope to take home the SCIAC title. With the end of their season in
sight, the Stags are determined to maintain their momentum heading into next week.
“We are preparing to play three
tough games in three days,” Lonzo said. “Fatigue is always in the back of our
minds, so rest is important as well as mental preparation.”
The Sagehens gear up for the end of
their regular season with a road match against California Lutheran University (7-3,
3-4 SCIAC) on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 11:00 a.m.