Lewis, Smith Help CMS Men's Water Polo to Big 9-8 Road Win over Pomona-Pitzer

Ethan Lewis had four goals, including the biggest one of the night in a 9-8 win at Pomona-Pitzer
Ethan Lewis had four goals, including the biggest one of the night in a 9-8 win at Pomona-Pitzer

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Senior Ethan Lewis broke an 8-8 tie with his fourth goal with 1:48 to go, and sophomore goalie Noah Smith had five fourth-quarter saves, including a big one on the final possession, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team took a huge 9-8 road win over No. 2 Pomona-Pitzer on Wednesday evening at Haldeman Pool.

With the win, CMS moves to 8-8 overall and 3-1 in the SCIAC, currently in a three-way tie for second with Chapman and Redlands. Pomona-Pitzer, which came into the year ranked No. 1 in the nation in Division III after going undefeated in SCIAC play a year ago, falls to 9-7 overall and 2-2 in the league.

"We knew this was a great team," said Lewis. "We had a good game plan, our coach prepped us well. It was all execution, and I think that's been lacking the last couple of years, especially finishing, and I think we did that tonight. It feels really good to capitalize on our goals."   

CMS led 8-6 heading into the fourth quarter, but saw the Sagehens came back to tie the score 8-8. In its only SCIAC loss, the Stags led 9-6 at Whittier, but saw the Poets outscore them 6-0 down the stretch to come back for a 12-9 lead.  

Lewis, who fouled out of the Whittier match with three exclusions and wasn't able to play as the Poets took the lead, stepped up to make sure that the same fate didn't befall CMS this time, scoring all three Stag goals after halftime. The third came when he ripped home a shot with 1:48 showing on the clock, tucking it inside the left post to give CMS back a 9-8 lead. Smith had a save on the ensuing Pomona-Pitzer possession, and after CMS took a shot at the end of the shot clock, the Sagehens called timeout with 46 seconds left to try to set up the tying play. 

Pomona-Pitzer was able to get a quality shot attempt, as Riley Mangan worked his way free to the left of the cage, and sent a powerful shot towards net. Smith, though, had a huge save getting his hands up in time to knock the shot down and then chase the loose ball into the corner to allow CMS the chance to run off the rest of the clock. 

The Sagehens opened up a 2-0 lead early, but CMS responded with the next two goals to pull even. Junior Christian Thornton broke the ice for CMS at the 5:15 mark, and after a Smith save, sophomore Will Clark knotted the score with 4:15 left in the first. Pomona-Pitzer went up 4-2, before the Stags scored twice 31 seconds apart, with junior Rob Driscoll making it a 4-3 game at the 1:42 mark, and Thornton tying it with 1:11 left in the first. 

Lewis had his first goal 42 seconds into the second quarter to give CMS its first lead at 5-4 , and Thornton scored his third goal of the first half to make it 6-4 with 6:03 showing on the second-quarter clock. The Sagehens, though, pulled even on a goal with 55 seconds left to make it a 6-6 game heading into the break. 

Goals were harder to come by in the second half, as Lewis scored the only two goals for either team in the third quarter, the first coming at the 4:11 mark and the second with 29 seconds left. Joseph Schafer scored 1:17 into the fourth quarter for Pomona-Pitzer to close to within one, and Mangan tied it up with 3:39 to go. Smith had a key save on the next Sagehen possession to prevent them from taking the lead, helping to set up the go-ahead goal from Lewis. 

CMS will be back in action on Saturday when it looks to add to its SCIAC win total with a road match at Occidental.