CMS Men's Water Polo Defeats Hopkins, Takes No. 11 Pepperdine Down to Wire in 14-13 Defeat

CMS Men's Water Polo Defeats Hopkins, Takes No. 11 Pepperdine Down to Wire in 14-13 Defeat

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team won a key Division III showdown against Johns Hopkins in the morning 12-8, and then nearly knocked off Division I power Pepperdine, ranked No. 11 in the nation, in the evening before falling 14-13 as it finished the Gary Troyer Memorial Tournament with a 3-1 record this weekend.

With the split, the Stags now stand at 10-2 on the year, with the only two losses coming to No. 1 USC on Sept. 8, and No. 11 Pepperdine this evening. CMS came in as the No. 2 ranked team in Division III, while Johns Hopkins came in ranked No. 4, and the Stags were also the top team also receiving votes in the national poll, giving the program the potential of breaking into the top 20 when the new poll comes out this week. CMS also defeated Division I Navy 6-5 yesterday in its first match of the Gary Troyer. 

"I think the guys are really starting to come together," said Head Coach Greg Lonzo, a graduate of Pepperdine who nearly coached his team to a win over his alma mater. "We're starting to find our rhythm, and play really well together. I thought we did a great job (against Pepperdine) just fighting through the whole game creating good situations for ourselves and taking advantage of opportunities. It was a tough loss, but it's one of those where you come away really happy with the performance of the team."

In the Pepperdine contest, CMS jumped out to a 5-3 lead after the first quarter, behind five different goal scorers, with sophomore Koss Klobucher beating the first-period buzzer with a goal.

Pepperdine surged ahead 7-6 in the second quarter, taking the lead with four seconds left, but the Stags were able to beat the buzzer again to tie it. CMS attempted a long shot off the restart that was saved by Pepperdine goalie Kyle McKenney, but it carried out over the endline with one second left. Freshman William Clark then lobbed a pass toward the far post, that junior Ethan Lewis batted in with one hand before the buzzer sounded to get the Stags even at the break. 

Clark scored on an extra-man chance to start the second half to put CMS ahead 8-7, but the Waves tallied three in a row to take a 10-8 lead. However, sophomore Christian Thornton scored a pair of goals 1:28 apart to tie it back up 10-10 heading into the fourth. 

It appeared soon after that the Waves were going to take control, as they rattled off another 3-0 run to pull ahead 13-10 with 4:43 remaining. CMS dug down, though, as junior Zack Rossman scored on a 6-on-5, and Lewis scored two in a row, lobbing a shot in with 3:02 left to tie it up 13-13.

Each team had chances to break the tie, with the Stags missing a go-ahead goal by inches in the final minute on a 6-on-5 as Rossman's shot hit the underside of the bar and came down on the line but stayed out. 

Pepperdine then called a timeout and took a shot at the end of the shot clock that freshman goalie Noah Smith deflected over the bar for a huge save, but the ball stayed with the Waves. Pepperdine then fed the ball into the middle, where Chris Dilworth was able to fight off two Stag defenders and finish for a 14-13 lead. CMS tried to throw a cross-pool pass on its last possession to tie it again, but were unable to get the shot off as the Waves held on for the one-goal win. 

Lewis finished with four goals for the Stags, a day after beating Navy on a goal with three seconds left. Clark finished with three goals and two assists, while Rossman and Thornton each had two. 

Earlier in the day, the Stags prevailed 12-8 over Johns Hopkins in a battle of top five Division III teams. CMS took a 5-2 lead after the first quarter behind five different goal scorers, as Clark, Nick Britt, Barron Banta, Eric Warmoth and Samuel Harrison all converted. 

Warmoth and Banta scored their second goals to put the Stags ahead 7-3 in the second quarter, but the Blue Jays were able to get it back down to two goals three times in the second half. After the margin closed to 8-6, Banta finished off a hat trick with 1:44 left in the third. The Blue Jays scored 19 seconds later, but freshman Andrew Wraith tallied with two seconds left to make it a 10-7 lead going into the fourth. 

Johns Hopkins found the net with 4:03 left to put a little bit of pressure on the Stags, but Clark answered back with 2:29 left and Harrison sealed it with his second of the day off a Thornton pass.  Noah Smith had nine saves in the second half to get the win for the Stags in goal.

The Stags came away with three wins in a busy weekend and still brought an outstanding performance in the tournament's final match, thanks in large part to a deep roster that allowed Lonzo to rotate players throughout.

"Our depth was critical," said Lonzo. "We played upwards of 16 guys throughout the weekend. I think that was a huge piece yesterday in our first game against Navy, and coming back this morning against Hopkins and being able to play 12 or 13 guys in our rotation really helped us be ready for the second game today."

CMS will be back in action when it travels to Boston next weekend to participate in the Harvard Invitational, where it will meet Harvard, Brown, Princeton and Iona over the three-day event.