CLAREMONT, Calif. – After a dominating 16-5 showing over Caltech (0-2), the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team (5-4) prevailed in a nail-biting 8-7 victory over Saint Francis (5-9) to close out the first day of the 2017 Convergence Tournament. The Athenas played with much-improved chemistry and showed more urgency in key moments in their season debut at Axelrood Pool.
In the afternoon match against Caltech, the Athenas wasted little time to get on board, as junior Roxy Kiessling (CMC) scored a goal less than a minute into the first period. Sophomore Tess van Hulsen (CMC) kept the momentum 50 seconds later with another goal and freshman Aracelia Aldrete (CMC) tripled the lead after scoring from the right side of the cage. Senior Shannon Golden (CMC) added two more before the period ended to give CMS the 5-2 lead.
The Athenas extended their lead 9-3 and surely sealed the game after sophomore Kaitlyn Eng (HMC) threaded four straight assists in the third period.
Later in the evening, CMS played its rematch against Saint Francis. Earlier this season, the Athenas faced the Red Flash at the Bucknell Invitational, which they lost 10-7. Eager to take back the earlier loss in front of their home crowd, the Athenas jumped to a three-goal lead in the first period thanks to some great ball movement and well-placed shots, including one from sophomore Emma Choy (CMC).
The Red Flash did not make it easy for the Athenas, scoring three straight goals to tie the game. However, with three seconds left in the half, Perfect took an outlet pass from Van Hulsen during the power play and whipped the ball past the keeper to give CMS the 4-3 lead.
Saint Francis went on a three-goal rally during the third period to take the 6-4 lead, stifling the Athenas offense with their physical play; however, Aldrete broke the brief drought with two straight goals to tie the game. With 7:14 left in the game, Eng threw an outlet pass from the middle of the pool to Gaffney. The junior muscled past her defender to receive the pass and shot the ball into the top left corner to give CMS the 7-6 lead. 40 seconds later, the Athenas drew an exclusion near the cage to earn a penalty and Gaffney scored the attempt to make it 8-6. Saint Francis scored with 1:50 left to bring the game within one, but the Athenas held on to close the game with the victory.
The Athenas will return to the pool today at 11:45 a.m. to face Cal State University, Monterey Bay and again in the evening at 6 p.m. for a rematch against Azusa Pacific.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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