Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Water Polo team saw their quest for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Post Season Tournament title slip away Friday night as they fell 13-6 to Claremont-M-S at the Lillian Slade Aquatic Center.
Whittier and CMS played two games this season that were both decided by the same 11-10 score, with each team winning in its home pool. This one appeared to be heading towards the same pattern, as the match was deadlocked at 4-4 at the half, and the Poets took a 6-5 lead midway through the third after the teams exchanged the first three goals of the second half.
That would turn out to be the last goal that the Poets would score, though, as the Stags caught fire and took the 13-6 win. CMS scored five times in the final 3:53 of the third quarter to stun the Purple & Gold and take a 10-6 lead heading into the fourth. Christian Thornton started the run with the tying goal, and after a Sam Harrison steal, Lewis gave the Stags the lead for good on a goal with 2:47 left in the third.
The run kept going, though, as CMS killed a Whittier 6-on-5 attempt and then Thornton scored again with 1:42 to go in the third to make it an 8-6 game. Goalie Noah Smith had a steal, and Lewis scored his fourth of the night to make it 9-6, and after Whittier killed off a 6-on-5, Zack Rossman scored with seven seconds left to make it a 10-6 lead going into the fourth.
The three-minute break didn't help stop the momentum though, as the Stags won the opening sprint and Lewis scored again to make it 11-6 and give CMS six goals on six straight possessions. That streak ended when Lewis had his next shot saved, but the score stayed stuck on 11-6 until William Clark scored with 4:30 left to make it 12-6. Lewis capped off the scoring with his sixth of the night to make the final 13-6.
Whittier came out playing aggressively in the first quarter with freshman Eric Borunda (Whittier, Calif.) and junior Cornelis Kriek (Pretoria, South Africa) getting the Poet faithful on their feet early with back to back connections. That lead soon evaporated as CMS would strike with two of their own that tied things up. Whittier though would lead 3-2 after the first eight minutes as Borunda would strike again.
CMS added the first two goals in the second quarter to go on top 4-3 but again WC would respond with Borunda sending the game into the break all knotted up at 4-4 with an unassisted tally. In the third, Kriek got the scoring started getting fed inside by Hans Zdolsek (Linkoping, Sweden) and a minute later, Borunda would add his fourth of the game that gave the Poets their final lead. After that it was all CMS as they went on an 8-0 run that covered the final 11:43 helping them secure the road victory.
Murat Ersoz (Istanbul, Turkey) had a big game for the Poets finishing with 11 saves and a steal. Whittier outshot Claremont-M-S 32-30 but was a mere 1-for-5 on power-plays.