THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In a rematch of last Saturday's regular season finale, the Cal Lutheran Regals edged the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team, 6-5 in a back-and-forth SCIAC Semifinal. The Athenas had a chance with seven second left on the clock to tie the game, but Roxy Kiessling's (CMC) shot under heavy pressure missed just outside the right post and the Regals held on to advance to the SCIAC Championship Game on Sunday.
It was a tight game throughout, with neither team led by more than one goal during the contest. The Regals scored first, but the Athenas quickly responded with a goal from Amelia Ayala (CMC). Roxy Kiessling tallied nearly four minutes later to give CMS the 2-1 lead with just under a minute and a half remaining in the period. Just 30 seconds later, Cal Lutheran's Kristi McGee tallied to tie the game at 2-2 at the end of the first period.
That's where the game would stay for the next 12 minutes. Neither team found the goal in the second period, with the storyline being strong defense for both sides during the quarter. The Regals hit the post twice, but the game remained tied 2-2 heading to the half.
Four minutes into the third period the scoreless streak for the two sides continued. With 3:47 remaining in the third quarter, Kiessling connected to give the Athenas the lead back at 3-2, but two-straight tallies from Cal Lutheran ended the period and the Regals led 4-3 going into the final period.
Less than a minute into the final period, Kiessling struck again to tie the game at 4-4. The Athenas had an opportunity to break the tie, but Jessica Gaffney's (CMC) shot was saved by Cal Lutheran goalie Bailey Meyer. Meyer made a total of 11 saves in the game for Cal Lutheran, including a number of acrobatic deflections to keep the Regals in the game for its entirety.
Just before the midpoint of the period, Megan Seeman connected for the Regals to put the Athenas down 5-4. Two minutes later, it appeared that the Regals doubled their lead when a shot when into the back of the net. A whistle just before the Regals' shot, waved the goal off and gave CMS the ball with three minutes remaining. The Athenas quickly pushed the ball forward and Gaffney struck on the break the other way to tie the game at 5-5.
Kristi McGee tallied for the Regals with 1:22 remaining in the game to give the lead back to the home team at 6-5. The Athenas had a couple of quality looks in the final minute, but Kaitlyn Eng (HMC) hit the post with an attempt and Kiessling's desperation heavy, with two defenders draped over her, missed just outside the right post at the buzzer. Cal Lutheran survived, and now advances to the SCIAC Championship on Sunday at Pomona-Pitzer.
Kiessling ended the contest with a game-high three goals on seven shots.
The Athenas' season comes to a close in the SCIAC Semifinals. CMS went 18-10 on the season with an 11-3 mark in the SCIAC. The 11 victories in conference is the first time in program history that the Athenas have won 10 or more conference games in a season.