CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Men's water polo team grabbed a two-goal lead late on a penalty shot by Zack Rossman and held on to a 10-9 victory over Chapman in a back-and-forth affair on Saturday at Axelrood Pool.
With the win, CMS improves to 8-2 in the SCIAC and 13-9 overall and remains tied with Pomona-Pitzer (8-2) for second within the conference. The Stags currently hold the tiebreaker with the Sagehens after coming away with a 9-8 victory on Oct. 10 at Haldeman Pool. Chapman falls to 5-5 in the conference and 9-15 overall with the one-goal loss. The last four games have been decided by two goals or less for CMS after its five-game winning streak was snapped at La Verne on Oct. 30. CMS and Pomona-Pitzer faceoff for the final time on Nov. 13 at Axelrood Pool at 7 p.m. in the final Sixth-Street matchup of the 2019 regular season.
Will Clark led the Stags in scoring with four goals and two assists as he got the offense going for CMS at the 5:10 mark of the first quarter with a power-play goal. The Stags scored on four of their 15 their special teams' advantages in the game and the shots were even 30-30 with the Panthers. Rossman not only netted what ended up to be the game-winner but finished with two goals and two assists for the game.
Chapman answered back with two goals; Tanner Frost tied the game at 4:54 of the first quarter off an assist by Brad Wilson, who finished with one goal and one assist in the game, and Graham Asalone broke the tie putting the Panthers in the lead 2-1 with 2:09 left in the opening frame. The first quarter would conclude with Chapman in the lead by a one-goal margin.
CMS surged in front 3-2 on goals by Koss Klobucher at 7:20 (Eric Warmoth - assist) on the power play and Ethan Lewis an even-strength tally at 6:39 with an assist by Will Clark. But often, when one team made a multi-goal run, the other team would respond as Chapman scored the next three goals grabbing its largest lead of the game 5-3 with the capper of the run coming from Hayden Reider at 2:49 of the second quarter.
The Stags battled back in the second quarter as Will Clark scored his second goal of the game and CJ Box found the net for his first and only of the game to tie the score 5-5 at halftime. CMS held Chapman to just one goal in the third quarter as it limited Asalone's opportunities defensively despite him tallying his hat-trick goal just 59 seconds into the period. Sam Harrison followed a tally by Clark to give the Stags back the lead 7-5 with 7:19 left in the third quarter and Rossman would tally two big goals around Clark's fourth goal to pull away, 10-8.
Rossman took the ball on a second try at a penalty shot, for the Stags, after the first was stopped by Chapman's goalie Wesley Hertel and promptly beat him to the right post putting the Stags up by two goals with just 2:11 left on the clock and ultimately surviving a late push by the Panthers that included a power-play goal by Asalone to cut the lead to just one goal with seven seconds remaining.
"We had a bunch of close games even before that La Verne loss," said Rossman. "So it was big to know that we can come out and pull out another close one. We were down two goals in the second quarter, and the fourth quarter was even a struggle. We had a bunch of contributors, and glad to have everyone on the same page again." Rossman said after the big victory.
The match turned in the third quarter as the Stags limited the Panthers to just one goal and were able to come away with a one-goal advantage leaving the frame and then held on through the final eight minutes of play.
Goalie Noah Smith swam out the clock on the restart after the Asalone's fifth goal of the match and made some big saves late to help the Stags earn a much-needed victory making 11 saves and posting two steals in total. The Stags won two of four sprints as Klobucher tapped it away from Phillip MacLean in the third quarter and Rossman out swam MacLean in the fourth and final frame.
Up next for the Men's water polo team is a match-up with first-place Whittier (9-0) for the second time this season. This episode of the Poets vs. Stags will take place at Axelrood Pool on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.