Lewis Keys Huge Second Half as Men's Water Polo Storms Past Whittier 13-6 into SCIAC Finals

Lewis Keys Huge Second Half as Men's Water Polo Storms Past Whittier 13-6 into SCIAC Finals

WHITTIER, Calif. - Junior Ethan Lewis had a career-high six goals, the most for any Stag all season, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team closed out on an 8-0 run to break open a tight game and capture a 13-6 win over Whittier on Friday evening in the SCIAC Semifinals.

With the win, the Stags improve to 16-10 overall and advance to the SCIAC Finals, when they will travel across the street on Sunday morning to take on Pomona-Pitzer at 11 a.m. after the Sagehens defeated Cal Lutheran in the other semifinal. 

CMS and Whittier played two games this season that were both decided by the same 11-10 score, with each team winning in its home pool. This one appeared to be heading towards the same pattern, as the match was deadlocked 4-4 at the half, and the Poets took a 6-5 lead midway through the third after the teams exchanged the first three goals of the second half. 

That would turn out to be the last goal that the Poets would score, though, as the Stags caught fire and roared through to a commanding 13-6 win. CMS scored five times in the final 3:53 of the third quarter to stun the Poets and take a 10-6 lead heading into the fourth. Sophomore Christian Thornton started the run with the tying goal, and after a Sam Harrison steal, Lewis gave the Stags the lead for good on a goal with 2:47 left in the third. 

The run kept going, though, as CMS killed a Whittier 6-on-5 attempt and then Thornton scored again with 1:42 to go in the third to make it an 8-6 game. Goalie Noah Smith had a steal, and Lewis scored his fourth of the night to make it 9-6, and after Whittier killed off a 6-on-5, junior Zack Rossman scored with seven seconds left to make it a 10-6 lead going into the fourth. 

The three-minute break didn't help stop the momentum, as the Stags won the opening sprint and Lewis scored again to make it 11-6 and give CMS six goals on six straight possessions. That streak ended when Lewis had his next shot saved, but the score stayed stuck on 11-6 until freshman William Clark scored with 4:30 left to make it 12-6. Lewis capped off the scoring with his sixth of the night to make the final 13-6. 

Whittier actually came out with the momentum at the start of the match, taking a quick 2-0 lead. However, Lewis would have none of it, stepping up with two straight goals to quickly tie the score up 2-2. Whittier led 3-2 after the first, before Clark tied it and Harrison gave the Stags their first lead at 4-3, before they settled for a 4-4 deadlock at the half. 

Clark and Thornton each finished with two goals and an assist in support of Lewis, while Smith had five saves and two steals and allowed only two goals in the second half. 

CMS will be facing Pomona-Pitzer for the second time in a week for the SCIAC title on Sunday morning. Pomona-Pitzer won at CMS on Saturday 9-6 to cap off an undefeated regular season in SCIAC play, and the Stags will try to turn the tables on the other side of Sixth Street and earn the league's automatic bid to the postseason.