WHITTIER, Calif. – Sophomore Anna Fry had three goals and three assists and freshman goalie Jessica Salaz had 12 saves, including a fourth-quarter penalty shot, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team won a tight road contest at Whitter 10-9 in a key battle of teams that came into the contest tied for third in the SCIAC.
With the win, CMS improves to 9-12 on the season and 7-4 in the SCIAC, remaining tied with La Verne for third, while Whittier falls to fifth place at 6-5. The top four teams receive bids to the SCIAC Tournament, which would put the Athenas in the postseason if the season ended today.
The Athenas have also seen seven of their 11 SCIAC matches decided by one goal, going 4-3 in those contests, including a pair of wins so far this week over Chapman and Whittier. The Poets won the first meeting between the two teams 7-6 at Axelrood Pool, one of three SCIAC losses that the Athenas have suffered by the same 7-6 score.
Fry gave the Athenas a 9-8 lead heading into the fourth quarter which it would not relinquish, breaking an 8-8 tie with nine seconds left for her third goal of the contest. The momentum from that goal carried over, as CMS killed a 6-on-5, and sophomore Chandlyr Denaro scored on the first Athena possession to push the lead to 10-8. Salaz then came up big with a save on a penalty shot with 6:46 left to keep it a two-goal lead and keep the momentum on the side of CMS.
Whittier finally cut the lead to one with 2:34 to go on a 6-on-5 goal from Teresa Marchetti, and then had three chances to tie it. Athena freshman Maddy Menard came up with a steal on the first one, and Salaz had her 11th save of the game on the second one. After the Poets killed a 6-on-5, they had one final chance to pull even, taking a timeout with 23 seconds left, but Bianca Vera's final shot was saved by Salaz and CMS held on for the one-goal win.
CMS trailed 3-1 early in the second quarter, but used a 3-0 run to pull in front. Fry scored 31 seconds after the Poets went ahead by two, and freshman Alex Szymczak had two straight goals to put the Athenas ahead with 3:13 left in the half on a 6-on-5. Whittier bounced back to tie it, but freshman Emily McElroy closed out the first-half scoring with 1:13 left to give CMS a one-goal lead heading into intermission.
Whittier started the second half with two straight goals to pull back in front 6-5, but sophomore Amela Ayala tied it up on a 6-on-5. Whittier took a 7-6 lead, but a goal from freshman Addi Duvall off a Fry feed tied it 7-7, before Fry's second goal put CMS in front 8-7.
Senior Emma Choy tied Fry for team-high honors with three assists, while Denaro and Szymczak each had two-goal games. Marchetti led all scorers for Whittier with four goals.
CMS will be back in action on Saturday, when it hosts La Verne at 11 a.m. in a battle between the remaining two teams tied for third.