Big Second Half Leads CMS Water Polo to Win over Fresno Pacific, Split on the Day

Nick Britt scored in all four matches of the Inland Empire Classic, including four in a win over Fresno Pacific this morning
Nick Britt scored in all four matches of the Inland Empire Classic, including four in a win over Fresno Pacific this morning

LA VERNE, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team trailed Fresno Pacific 5-4 at the half, but outscored the Sunbirds 6-2 after the break to take a 10-7 win in its first game on the second day of the Inland Empire Classic at Las Flores Park. The Stags dropped their nightcap to No. 4 UC Santa Barbara 15-4.

With the split, CMS stands at 3-5 on the year, with all five losses coming to teams in the national top 20, including No. 1 USC (21-9) and No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (15-4) at the Inland Empire Classic. The Stags also had a narrow loss to No. 13 UC Irvine at its opening tournament at UC San Diego, as well as a loss to the No. 9 host Tritons, while they have now beaten Fresno Pacific twice in the first two weekend after also winning 7-4 in its final match of the Triton Invitational. 

Junior Nick Britt had four goals and an assist to lead CMS to the win over Fresno Pacific, while first-year Kyle Ballack and senior Ethan Lewis each had two goals and an assist. Sophomore goalie Noah Smith had nine saves and allowed seven goals to get the win in the cage. 

With the Stags down 5-4 at the break, they were able to regroup and outscore Fresno Pacific 3-0 in the third quarter to take a 7-5 lead heading into the fourth. Britt tied the score, and then Ballack had back-to-back goals to put CMS ahead to stay. 

Britt added another goal on a long outlet pass from Smith to extend the lead to 8-5 to start the fourth quarter, and Lewis made it a 5-0 run 6:07 to go, making the score 9-5. Fresno Pacific ended the run with 5:46 to play, but Lewis scored his second to answer back and the Sunbirds managed just one final harmless goal with 1:48 on the clock to make the final score 10-7. 

In its final match against No. 4 UC Santa Barbara, CMS wasn't able to get much going offensively in the opening half, falling behind 10-0 at the break. Sophomore Eric Warmoth broke the ice with a goal on a 6-on-5 to start the second half, and Britt, Lewis and Rossman each added goals as well. Smith had 11 saves in the losing cause, giving him 20 on the day, while Britt tallied at least one goal in all four matches, totaling nine for the tournament. 

"I think everyone was pretty pleased," said Britt of the team's performance over the weekend. "We got our wins over Concordia and Fresno Pacific and played USC to a good game with nine goals against them, which we were pretty happy about. I think everyone was really stoked with how we played; we are pretty cohesive this year and we are trying to use everyone in the pool, which is what we are always trying to do every year." 

CMS will return to action next week, when it takes on Caltech at home on Saturday in its SCIAC opener at 11 a.m.