Comeback Comes up Short as CMS Men's Water Polo Suffers First SCIAC Loss at Chapman 11-9

Comeback Comes up Short as CMS Men's Water Polo Suffers First SCIAC Loss at Chapman 11-9

ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman men's water polo team started the second half on a 5-0 run to break open a tie game and held off a CMS rally down the stretch to hand the Stags their first SCIAC defeat with an 11-9 win on Saturday morning at the Allred Aquatics Center.

With the loss, CMS, which is ranked second in the nation in the latest CWPA Division III poll, slips to 12-6 on the year and 7-1 in the SCIAC. Chapman, which is ranked fifth, improves to 5-4 in league play with the win.

CMS scored five goals in the second quarter to tie the score 6-6 going into intermission, but were unable to keep the momentum going, as Chapman built an 11-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Vasil Halchev and Graham Asalone scored goals 34 seconds apart midway through the third, and a Brad Wilson goal gave the Panthers a 9-6 lead after three.

Cameron Genetti and Valchev added goals to start the fourth and push the lead to 11-6, before freshman William Clark finally snapped the run for the Stags with 6:00 left. Junior Zack Rossman scored on a 6-on-5 with 4:17 left to close to within 11-8 and then added his third goal of the game with 3:07 to go to make it 11-9, but that was as close as CMS would come.

The Stags had a 6-on-5 with 2:40 left with a chance to cut it to one, but Chapman's Evan Belli came up with a steal to deny the extra-man opportunity, and goalie Wesley Hertel then made his 11th save of the day to deny sophomore CJ Box (two goals) in close to seal it.

CMS got off to a bit of a sluggish start and trailed 3-1 at the end of the first quarter. After Box (pictured) found the net to tie the score 1-1, Chapman scored the next two goals to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the first frame.

CMS, though, quickly took advantage of back-to-back 6-on-5 chances to start the second quarter, with Clark scoring 14 seconds in to close to 3-2 and Box netting his second goal of the game to tie it 3-3 at the 6:43 mark. Less than one minute later, sophomore Christian Thornton scored off a Clark feed to give CMS its first lead at 4-3 with 5:54 left in the half.

Chapman broke the 3-0 Stag run with a goal, but freshman Andrew Wraith added another power play tally at the 4:28 mark on a feed from senior Matt Daruty to give the Stags a 5-4 lead. Graham Asalone, though, converted on a five-meter shot and then scored an even-strength goal to give the Panthers back the lead before junior Zack Rossman scored with 12 seconds left in the half to tie it up 6-6 at the break.

Clark finished with two goals and three assists for the Stags for a team-high five points, while Rossman had an assist to go with his three goals and Thornton had a goal and two assists. Asalone had three goals and four assists for Chapman, while Halchev had three goals.

CMS will be back in action when it hosts Redlands on Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. contest at Axelrood Pool.