LA VERNE, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team's matchup with Cal Lutheran in the opening round of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference provided plenty of excitement, but the double overtime thriller ended in favor of the Regals, 9-8. The Athenas (9-20, 3-6) and Regals (15-11, 6-3) were caught in a defensive standoff as both teams did an excellent job causing turnovers and forcing each other to miss shots. With neither side able to establish a rhythm on offense, each goal carried a lot of weight. Junior Claire Baxter (CMC) led the Athenas with four goals while freshman Aracelia Aldrete (CMC) had two. Junior Mariah Mastrodimos (SC) recorded seven saves and a steal in front of the goal and did a solid job setting her teammates up with scoring opportunities with her long range passes. Kristi McGee carried the Regals on offense, scoring a game-high six goals out of nine shot attempts.
Both teams struggled to find clean shots in front of goal in the opening period, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. With 1:08 remaining in the first period, the Regals opened up the scoring courtesy of McGee. 20 seconds later, sophomore Krystal Sung (CMC) got the Athenas on board with a close shot that rattled into the corner of the net. The Athenas finally gained ground when junior Jessica Gaffney (CMC) delivered a crossing pass from the left wing to Baxter, who launched it at ease past the keeper to give CMS the lead. With 2:54 left in the half, Baxter drew an exclusion in front of the goal for a five-meter penalty opportunity and converted it to give CMS a 3-1 advantage at the half.
CMS was determined to take care of business in the second half, but the Regals made several adjustments to create counterattacking opportunities on defense. Trailing 4-2, Cal Lutheran broke out on a 3-0 run, including two goals from McGee to take back the lead. The Regals tried to contain the Athenas in the fourth period as neither side found the net for majority of the time. The Regals' victory seemed imminent when McGee scored off a power play to give Cal Lutheran an insurance goal with 2:15 left on the clock, but Aldrete managed to keep CMS within one after taking a long pass from Baxter and converting a quick shot. With 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Gaffney set herself up from long range and drilled a shot past the keeper's fingertips to tie the game.
Aldrete gave CMS the 7-6 lead in overtime after backing down on her defender and throwing a skipping shot to the bottom left corner of the net. However, McGee could not be stopped as she tied the game with 10 seconds left to send the game to second overtime. The Regals carried some momentum into the second extra period, scoring two goals off the counterattack to take a 9-7 lead. Baxter scored from distance with 23 seconds left to put the Athenas within one, but CMS could not tie the game in the final seconds.
The Athenas will return to La Verne tomorrow for the consolation rounds, facing Occidental College at 2:15 p.m.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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