The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas (14-9, 7-3 SCIAC) hustled Wednesday evening to keep up with the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens at Axelrood Pool, finishing the first half of the women’s water polo matchup 2-2. However, CMS eventually ran out of gas and sputtered out in the second half, allowing the Sagehens (17-9, 8-0 SCIAC) to take a 11-5 victory, and extend their undefeated record in the SCIAC.
CMS coach Greg Lonzo said the Sixth Street rivalry loss was tough for his team, especially given their solid start.
“We played really well for the first half of the game,” Lonzo said. “In that third quarter though, we missed a couple opportunities that could have really changed the game for us.”
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities and made phenomenal saves to keep the score low in the first half.
P-P coach Alex La was frustrated by the numerous poor shots forced by the CMS defense.
“We had options early that we missed,” La said. “We have to put away those opportunities early and so we won’t have a close game. Ultimately, if you shoot the ball and it misses the cage, it doesn’t even have the chance to get in. I think if we adjusted for this sooner, we could have put them away early.”
Lonzo credited this frustration to formidable defense from the Athenas, highlighting some particular individual performances.
“Jessica Gaffney [CM ’18] played fantastically,” Coach Lonzo said. “She was all over the pool, hustling, playing really solid defense. I think [Chandlyr Denaro CM ’21] in our goal played also really well … in the first half she was phenomenal, making a bunch of saves that really kept us in the game.”
However, as the third quarter quarter began, the game began to slip through the fingers of the Athenas.
“I think missing shots was the difference in the second half,” Lonzo said. “You miss three or four shots, eventually, you get a little frustrated and you make mistakes on defense.”
By the end of the third, P-P had scored four goals to CMS’ one, ending the quarter 6-3. Some notable Sagehen goals included Janelle Lewis PO ’19 ricocheted shot off a defender into the bottom right at 6:27 and a stunner from an impossible angle at 3:32 from Morgan McCracken PO ’18.
In the fourth quarter, the Sagehens’ relentless scoring continued as they piled on five more goals, with CMS only adding two more. The more margin widened, the more the audience grew numb to the ball hitting the back of the net.
As the night came to a close, the forlorn Athenas and the ecstatic Sagehens walked to the locker room beneath a scoreboard displaying a bright red 11-5 victory for P-P.
Despite the convincing win, P-P remains focused heading into the future.
“Our season is coming down to the wire,” La said. “Continuing to clean up our play each game will keep sharpening our knife.”
CMS, meanwhile, is itching for a rematch.
“[P-P] is the number one team in our conference right now so if we do get an opportunity against them again, it’s gonna be in a championship game scenario,” Coach Lonzo said. “We need to … make sure we’re prepared to finish the season in the top four to give ourselves the chance to win that next game against [P-P].”