WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier Invitational was a learning experience for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team (3-5) as several reserve players had the opportunity to compete against strong competition. The Athenas played two games on the road, dropping an 11-10 overtime thriller to University of Toronto before losing 14-8 to Azusa Pacific University (4-4). Junior Roxy Kiessling (CMC) led the team with six goals over the weekend, including three goals against Azusa, while her classmate Jessica Gaffney (CMC) handed out five total assists. Freshman Eliana Smithstein (SC) had her first career starts at goalkeeper and impressed in her debut against Toronto with seven saves.
"I thought we played really good defense this weekend," said Head Coach Greg Lonzo. "With a first-time goalie in the cage, I thought our defense did a great job protecting it. It was a good learning weekend. A lot of our key reserve players were able to play and get some good experience to prepare us when we play in the SCIAC."
Toronto got off to a strong start, scoring the first goal of the game and working its way to a 6-2 lead with 4:43 left in the second period. The Athenas found their momentum with 2:14 left in the same period after Kiessling scored a goal to cut the lead in half. Sophomore Kaitlyn Eng (HMC) added another goal with five seconds left until the half to make it 6-4 at halftime. The Athenas continued their momentum in the third period, scoring two straight goals to tie the game. From then on, the two teams went back-and-forth and finished regulation tied 10-10. Following a scoreless overtime, Toronto managed to draw a penalty in second overtime with 2:28 left on the time. Megan MacCormac hit the game-winning goal as Toronto never looked back.
The second game of the Invitational started off fairly close as the Athenas and Cougars traded goals in the first two periods. Kiessling managed to pull one goal back early in the third period to cut the deficit 6-5, but the Athenas ran out of gas, having just finished their last game a few hours ago. The Cougars went on a 5-0 run to take an 11-5 lead after the third period and never looked back.
The Athenas will return home to host the Claremont Convergence this Friday, Mar. 3. They play their first game against Caltech at 1:45 p.m. followed by a 6:45 p.m. evening match against St. Francis. CMS will play again on Saturday to face Cal State Monterey Bay at 11:45 a.m. followed by a rematch against APU at 6:00 p.m.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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