After enduring a tough 10-7 loss against Whittier College on Apr. 6, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Women’s Water Polo team (7-17, 4-4 SCIAC) came out strong on Apr. 9 at Chapman University (8-18, 3-4 SCIAC) to take on the Panthers on their home territory.
With only a few matches left before the SCIAC Championships tournament begins on Apr. 22, the Athenas knew they needed to maintain their momentum. As friends and practically sisters, they’ve become closer than ever and built a strong team chemistry. The team has used its tight bonds created both in and out of the pool to their advantage, and have worked all season to gain a great sense of cohesion and syncopation when taking on powerful teams in the water.
The pace of the game against Chapman was quick with never a dull moment: Both CMS and Chapman brought their A-game and upped the energy, scoring a total of 18 goals between the two teams. With competitive defense from both sides of the pool, Chapman ended the first quarter ahead 2-1.
The intensity did not cease throughout the match: Roxy Kiessling CM’ 18 came out firing with two goals in the second quarter alone and five goals total in the match. After three quarters of back-and-forth scoring, the Athenas and Panthers fought to maintain control of the lead.
Going in to the fourth quarter, CMS and Chapman entered the fourth quarter tied 8-8. CMS recognized the moment as their final opportunity to demonstrate their dominance, and fortunately, they found their groove just in time. They came out as a forceful, cohesive unit, connecting passes and communicating more than the other side.
The game could have gone either way as they entered the final quarter, and neither team had much time to score as the timer ticked away. But when it mattered most, Kiessling kept her team in the game with two stunning goals in the final few minutes. These last two points made the difference in the game, allowing the Athenas to walk away Saturday with a 10-8 win.
The stress of the close game was worth the positive outcome. The win put the CMS women’s water polo team in a better place for SCIACs as the team broke even in their SCIAC record and took the fourth ranking in the conference.
The match also boosted the Athenas’ energy, and carried their positive momentum further into their annual alumni match later Saturday afternoon. After all, the Athenas wanted to prove that the team had only gotten better over the years.
Helen Thomason SC ’18 was all smiles after the win over Chapman. She's proud of her team’s growth and perseverance, especially after games like this one.
“I think that we are really good at finishing games strong and keeping our energy up in the fourth quarter. When we decide we want to win, we can do it.” This attitude is what will carry Thomason and her teammates through to the SCIAC championship later this month.
Thomason also recognizes that there are things that need to improve if they are to be successful.
“We need to work on communicating with each other in the water and starting the game with more confidence so we can dictate the pace of the game.”
While it would be nice to take a lead earlier on to bypass the stress of entering the last few minutes with a tie, the Athenas can certainly put on a show for their spectators. Their intense performance kept fans on the edges of their seats. Although they lost 14-10 on Wednesday, Apr. 13, against their Pomona-Pitzer rivals (11-15, 6-1 SCIAC), the Athenas are using this outcome to inspire harder work before SCIACS. They will next compete on Friday, Apr. 22, in the SCIAC championships.