CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team won all four matches in the 2015 Gary Troyer Memorial Tournament, going undefeated in the competition for the second time in three years.
The event drew 17 schools from six states to the campuses of host schools Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer, featuring 34 matches in two days split between the two pools.
CMS 18, Penn St.-Behrend 4
In its first match of the tournament, CMS thrashed Penn St.-Behrend 18-4, the Stags' largest margin of victory since an 18-3 decision over Occidental in 2013. Nearly every player made contributions on the scoresheet and Arya Nakhjavani lead the team in goals with three.
CMS 10, Fresno Pacific 9
Later in the first day, the Stags clashed with Fresno Pacific in a back-and-forth match that was decided by a late goal. The Sun Birds jumped out to early 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but CMS battled back, knotting the game up twice before capitalizing on a man-advantage to take the lead in the second quarter.
A strong third quarter led to a three-goal cushion for the Stags, with Adam Hilborn netting his third of the tournament for a 9-6 CMS lead.
Fresno Pacific responded with three straight goals of their own, tying the game at nine midway through the fourth. With time winding down, Peter Seidner was the difference-maker adding his second goal of the match near the three-minute mark.
CMS would shut down the Sun Birds the rest of the way, earning the 10-9 victory.
CMS 11, Johns Hopkins 9
The two best Division III teams from the east coast (Johns Hopkins, MIT) and west coast (Whittier, CMS) took part in a USA Water Polo DIII mini-tournament, compromising the third and fourth contests of each team's tournament schedule.
The Stags took on Johns Hopkins in the mini-tournament semi-final, looking to avenge last year's 15-10 loss to the Blue Jays. Although CMS would never trail, the Blue Jays did everything they could to keep the game close up until the very end.
Ellison Taylor got in on the scoring action as the Stags jumped out to several multi-goal leads early.
With CMS leading 6-3 nearing the end of the second quarter, the Blue Jays stunned the CMS crowd with three goals in under a minute, turning a sizeable deficit into a deadlock at halftime.
However, the Stags responded well to begin the third frame as Cullen came through clutch, tacking on two straight before Eric Bakar scored his second of the tournament expanding the cushion to three goals once again.
Although Johns Hopkins would make it a one-goal game in the fourth, the Stags controlled the ball and played sound defense, netting an insurance marker with 1:12 remaining for the 11-9 final score.
With the win, CMS moved on to face Whitter in the DIII mini-tournament championship after the Poets had beaten MIT in their earlier semi-final game.
CMS 16, Whittier 14
CMS lost to the Poets in both matches last season, including a 10-5 defeat in the 2014 SCIAC Tournament championship game.
Early on, it would look like much of the same story when a 1-1 game turned into a 5-1 deficit mid-way through the second quarter. The teams would trade goals but CMS couldn't do much to reduce the deficit, trailing 8-4 at the end of the second.
After an early third quarter goal extended the Poets lead to five, the Stags next six minutes would turn the tide of the match.
Hilborn scored kicked off what would turn out to be a remarkable run for CMS, scoring at the 7:14 mark. From there, the Stags took advantage of a power-play with Cogan finding the back of the net, followed up by another quick marker this time from Peter Tilton.
A few possessions later, Tanner Cullen scored two in under a minute, completing the comeback giving the Stags all the momentum. Having the Poets on the ropes, Noah Deer quickly tallied his second in as many games as the crowd exploded when the Stags took their first lead of the match at 10-9.
The Stags and Poets once again traded goals all the way through the fourth quarter, and with the match contested at 14-14, Bakar scored his lone goal of the match, but the most important goal as it turned out to be the game winner with just over three minutes remaining.
CMS added one more to close out the game and completed a stunning come-from-behind victory, earning them the DIII mini-tournament championship banner.
Tanner Cullen was named the athlete of the USA Water Polo DIII mini-tournament, totaling seven goals through the two games.
CMS had 16 out of 17 players score during the tournament, something head coach Greg Lonzo attributed to the overall depth of this Stags team. "Depth was a big factor throughout the tournament," Coach Lonzo said. "We had lots of guys scoring against really high quality teams."
The Stags open conference play on Oct. 17 against La Verne and will be looking to carry the momentum from the tournament into their upcoming SCIAC games.
"We're at a great place at this point in the season," said Lonzo. "Our goal every year is to win a SCIAC championship."
By Tony Steege
Sports Information Assistant
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