CMS Men's Water Polo Edged by No. 13 UC Irvine 8-7 on Opening Day of Triton Classic

Zack Rossman had five goals on the day, including three in a near-upset of No. 18 UC Irvine
Zack Rossman had five goals on the day, including three in a near-upset of No. 18 UC Irvine

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team, ranked No. 3 in Division III, opened its 2019 season with a pair of defeats to nationally ranked Division I teams, falling 12-2 to tournament host and No. 9 UC San Diego and taking No. 13 UC Irvine down to the wire before falling 8-7 on the opening day of the Triton Invitational.

CMS took a 6-5 lead into the fourth quarter UC Irvine, and senior Zack Rossman tallied his third goal of the game with 5:26 to go to put the Stags ahead 7-6. The Anteaters bounced back just 19 seconds later to tie it 7-7 on a goal from Casey Lynton, his fourth of the game, and then went ahead 8-7 with 3:12 left on a Foster Hoose, which held up as the game-winner as the Stags were unable to find the equalizer in the closing minutes.  

Will Clark got CMS started with a goal at the 3:41 mark of the first quarter, before UC Irvine tied it with one second left to make it a 1-1 contest heading into the second. The Stags built a 4-2 lead early in the second frame, with Rossman, first-year Kyle Ballack and junior Christian Thornton scoring in succession to make it a two-goal lead with 1:51 left in the half.

UC Irvine pulled within 4-3 on a Lynton goal with nine seconds left in the half, then tied it on its first possession of the second half. Rossman gave CMS back the lead, and after the Anteaters came back 14 seconds later to knot it 5-5, senior Ethan Lewis gave the Stags a 6-5 lead heading into the fourth period, before UC Irvine held a 3-1 edge in goals in the pivotal final quarter.

In the first match of the day against No. 9 UC San Diego, the host Tritons used a 6-0 second quarter to pull away and go on to the 12-2 win. Senior All-American Zack Rossman opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter, but UC San Diego answered back 19 seconds later on a goal from Skyler Munatones, then took the lead for good at the 3:45 mark on a goal from Chris Turnbow-Lindenstadt.

UC San Diego ended up scoring 10 consecutive goals before Rossman scored his second of the day on a feed from sophomore Andrew Wraith. Jack Turner had a big day for the Tritons in goal with 13 saves in the first half, while as a team UC San Diego finished with 16 saves. Sophomore Noah Smith had seven saves for the Stags.

CMS will play its final match of the Triton Invitational tomorrow at 12 noon and then be back in action next weekend when it serves as co-host of the Inland Empire Classic. The Stags will entertain Concordia Irvine at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and then face No. 1 USC at 12 noon at Axelrood Pool, before concluding the tournament against Fresno Pacific and UC Santa Barbara at La Verne on Sunday.