CLAREMONT, Calif. - The CMS Women's Water Polo team went the distance plus six overtimes, and Amelia Ayala ended the contest with a game-winning goal in the extra session to defeat the University of Toronto 7-6 in the home opener. Alex Szymczak and Ayala accounted for six of the seven goals in the one-goal victory.
The Athenas improve to 2-3 overall on the young season and 1-0 at home with the home-opening victory. CMS outshot Toronto 39-28 overall and went 5-14 on the power play. Ruth Efe moved to the goalie position to begin the fourth quarter and saved 5-of-7 shots faced against a gritty Toronto squad. Starting goaltender Jessica Salaz saved six of 10 shots faced allowing four goals but accounting for three steals on the night.
Toronto scored the first goal of the game at 6:11 of the opening period with a shot by Caitlyn Tiedje assisted by Rhianna Wood to put the Varsity Blues up 1-0. The Athenas and Szymczak answered back with 2:02 left in the first period on a goal to tie the score, assisted by Ayala. Ayala would get on the score sheet once again in the first period as she netted the tie-breaking goal with just 30 seconds left to give CMS 2-1 lead through the opening eight minutes.
In the second period, Toronto's Alicia Vas hit the post and Deena Charles was denied by Salaz prior to CMS extending its lead to 4-1 with a goal by Szymczak at 3:41 in the second stanza. The three-goal lead would not last long as Toronto answered at the 3:22 mark with a goal by Sarah Wentling cutting the score to 4-2.
Toronto would hit the post one more time with a shot by Katie Smith and through two periods CMS held a 4-2 lead. The Varsity Blues cut the deficit to one goal with a goal by Vas assisted by Charles at 6:01 of the third period.
CMS took almost four minutes to regain its two-goal lead with a goal by Szymczak to stretch the edge to 5-3. Charles began the comeback for Toronto with a goal at the two-second mark of the third period to cut the deficit to 5-4 and Wood tied up the game 5-5 with a goal scored at 5:20 of the fourth period.
The Athenas grabbed the lead back on Szymczak's fourth goal of the game giving CMS a 6-5 lead with just 3:12 left in regulation, but Tiedje would tie the game with just nine seconds left and force overtime knotted up 6-6.
The extra session would take six sessions to find a game-winning goal from the hand of Ayala to lift CMS past Toronto in a hard-fought 7-6 final. Ayala is no stranger to finding the back of the net, the second year player scored 30 goals and recorded nine assists along with 37 steals last season and scored in 23 of 28 matches a season ago.
For Toronto, Charles tied with two others with two points on the night scoring one goal and dishing out one assist. Tiedje finished with two goals, and Wood notched a goal and an assist in the loss.
CMS was led by Szymczak, who scored four goals on eight shots, was joined by Ayala at the top of the scoring chart with two goals and one assist for three points on a team-leading nine shots. Six of the seven goals were scored by the First Year (Szymczak, 4) and Second Year (Ayala, 2 goals, 1 assist) Athenas to win their first home contest of the 2019 season. Emily McElroy added an assist and Aracelia Aldrete netted a goal.
The Athenas are back in action on Feb. 27 against Chapman at Axelrood Pool as they open SCIAC play at 7 p.m.