With an 11-8 victory over Redlands on Wednesday, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s water polo team (13-14, 8-5 SCIAC) clinched a spot in the SCIAC postseason tournament.
“Energy is what won us that game,” CMS Coach Lonzo said. “The guys had a lot of enthusiasm from the very beginning of the game. Our bench was outstanding in positivity by keeping the guys in the water really hyped and really focused.”
Going into the game, the Stags were tied with the Bulldogs for the last spot in the SCIAC conference tournament with both teams sitting at 7-5. By defeating Redlands, the Stags were able to break the tie and clinch a spot in the postseason tournament.
The Bulldogs started the first period with a cheeky lobbed shot arced over the keeper’s head into the top right of the goal at 6:26. Despite this worrisome start, the Stags quickly stifled any concerns racking up three goals in a row.
At 6:01, Koss Klobucher CM ‘21 sneaked the ball in from a tight angle on the right side into the bottom left. At 2:50, Robert Driscoll CM ‘21 ricocheted one off the top right crossbar and into the goal. And at 0:49, Barron Banta CM ‘21 zoned in on the bottom left of the frame and then met his mark.
On top of a strong save by keeper Evan Pauletich CM ‘19 from a penalty shot, the Stags established a lead that would only continue to grow and never be surmounted, ending the first period 3-1.
Despite Redlands tying it up with two goals at the beginning of the second quarter, CMS promptly recovered. The second period showed the Stags’ defensive and offensive superiority. CMS headed into the third with a 6-4 lead, thanks to goals from Robert Driscoll CM ‘21 at 3:29, Zack Rossman CM ‘20 at 2:12, and CJ Box CM ‘21 at 0:29.
“Second half, the game kinda just went away,” Peter Tilton CM ‘18 noted. “We were dominating – up by 5 goals – they’re not coming back from that.”
Just as Tilton said, the Stags ran away with the game in the third period, scoring five goals and allowing only two goals from the Bulldogs. The Stags finished the third period with a massive 11-6 lead.
Even though the Bulldogs worked hard in the fourth period, the Stag’s played impressive defense and finished the game 11-8.
Having secured their position in the SCIAC tournament with this victory, CMS has its sights set on the championship.
“It’s gonna be a very exciting tournament,” Lonzo indicated. “I think all four teams that are in this year are really going to be hard to contend with and it’s going to be two really good semi-final games leading into that final and I think anyone has a chance to take the victory.”