After a difficult start to the Gary Troyer Tournament, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s water polo team bounced back to secure a successful weekend of games at Axelrod Pool. After losing 12-8 to University of California, San Diego and eking out a close win, 8-7, against Concordia University, on Friday, Oct. 7, the Stags put on two much stronger performances the following day. On Saturday, Oct. 8, they found their way to victories over Iona College and Connecticut College, 15-11 and 15-9, respectively.
“We came back together after a close game on Friday and basically decided that we were going to trust each other,” Noah Deer CM ’18 told TSL when asked how the team rebounded after losing their first game of the weekend.
To kick off Saturday’s schedule, CMS faced Iona, and the first half was very tight. The Stags went into the halftime break trailing by six goals to five. Deer, who led the way with four goals in that game and tied for the 10 overall for the weekend, and Ellison Taylor CM ‘17 scored important goals late in the third quarter to give the Stags a 10-8 lead heading into the final quarter.
“The foundation is a lot of conditioning that we do, and also the knowledge that all your teammates are that fatigued, too”, explained Deer about the team’s ability to play so many games in so little time. Deer went on to explain that everyone is putting in great effort, critical to each player combating their own fatigue. Due to this ability to withstand the fatigue, the Stags continued to expand the lead in the fourth quarter, finishing with a 4-2 advantage in the period, to finish off with a 15-11 win.
The team’s high intensity of conditioning aided the Stags as they continued to improve over the weekend. They kept their best performance for last, as they never trailed and led by as many as eight goals in their tournament-ending 15-9 win over Connecticut. In that game, the team was led by Ethan Lewis CM ‘20, who scored four goals, and Matt Daruty CM ‘19, who had four assists. With the game tied at two goals apiece, CMS went on a 5-0 run in the first half to build a 7-2 lead, one they would never relinquish.
On the whole, Deer deemed the weekend a success, stating, “We saw how things can turn poorly if we don’t work together and how things can be a huge success if we do.”
Deer also said, “what we did on Saturday was integral to our success in forthcoming games. We need to continue to work more as a team, more of a central unit, rather than a few individuals trying to be superstars.” This tactic seemed to work on Saturday, as every player got in the pool during the Stags’ most convincing win of the tournament.
With the team having been somewhat plagued by injury and sickness in the early portion of the season, but now starting to recover and win more games, there is much optimism as the Stags approach conference play. The team, currently with a 7-11 record, ends their non-conference portion of the schedule away to Loyola Marymount University on Oct. 14 before opening the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with an away game against the University of La Verne on Oct. 16.