CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Men's Water Polo team pulled away early and kept the hammer down as it rolled past Occidental 19-7 on Saturday at Axelrood Pool.
With the win, the Stags improve to 15-9 overall and 10-2 in SCIAC play. CMS sits alone in second place after handing the first-place Whittier Poets their first loss of the season this past Wednesday. CMS remains in the hunt for a regular-season conference championship and the top seed as Whittier faces Pomona-Pitzer later today. Occidental sinks to 1-11 in the SCIAC and 3-16 overall with the loss. The Stags have won eight of their last nine games and this result was the first time in the last five games that the final score was more than a two-goal margin.
The Stags held a 4-1 lead through one-quarter of play at Axelrood Pool and got there on goals from Christian Thornton to open the scoring at 7:14 in the first frame, Ethan Lewis tally which extended the lead to 2-0 with 5:37 left in the first quarter, and after Jarrod Norton scored the only goal for Oxy at 4:01 to cut the lead to 2-1, Zack Rossman notched his first of the game at 1:42 and Ben Weldon scored the final goal for the Stags in the opening quarter with 19 seconds left in the frame to extend the advantage to 4-1.
CMS quickly continued its offensive outpouring in the second quarter, when Lewis scored his second of the match off an assist by Clark to stretch the advantage to 5-1 with 6:51 left before the halftime break. Clark scored his first goal of the match just over two minutes later with 4:43 left in the frame on an assist by Christian Thornton adding to the lead, 6-1. Thornton finished with one goal and one assist putting him at 99 career-points and just one point shy of 100 points to reach an impressive collegiate feat. He will have two more matches to reach that marker this season with Pomona-Pitzer and Caltech remaining on the regular-season schedule, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Sam Harrison tallied his first of the game off an assist by Harrison Miller at 4:22 of the second frame to extend the Stags' advantage to 7-1. Harrison scored his second of the match at 2:22 in the second quarter off an assist from Weldon to extend the edge to 8-1.
Occidental ended its goal drought with 2:08 left before halftime on a goal by Christian Guillaume cutting the CMS advantage to 8-2. Following an exclusion of Oxy's Shea Grosz, CJ Box tallied his first of three goals in the match at 1:48 to give CMS a 9-2 lead. Lewis rattled a shot off the post and Eric Warmoth was excluded giving Oxy a chance to score on a power play, which they did cutting the deficit to 9-3 with 16 seconds left in the first half. Both teams would head to the break with a 9-3 score and CMS holding a comfortable lead.
Box wasted little time opening the second half as he scored his second of the match at 6:43 in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 10-3. Following another goal by Clark at 5:43 in the third to extend the lead to 11-3, Norton scored his second goal of the match for Oxy to make the score 11-4 CMS in front.
Ben Weldon tallied his second of two goals, finishing with three points (one assist) for the match, with 3:21 left in the third quarter and pushing the lead to 12-4. Box clinched his hat trick with 1:02 left in the third quarter that extended the lead to 14-6 through three stanzas of play. CMS outscored Occidental 5-1 in the fourth quarter, a period that included goals by Harrison, Sean Pine, and Eric Weiner. Weiner notched his first of the season with 3:56 left in the game to extend the advantage to 17-7 and Kyle Ballack capitalized off an assist from Rossman with 1:10 left to push the lead to the final score, 19-7.
CMS outshot Oxy 31-27 and went 6-10 on the powerplay compared to 4-10 for the Tigers. Guillaume scored four of the seven goals and Norton tallied the remaining three goals for Oxy. Harrison finished with four goals and Ballack tallied two goals and two assists to equal four points. Lewis notched two goals and one assist and Box finished with a hat trick. The Stags scored on one of their two penalty shot opportunities and that's where Weiner scored his first goal of the season after missing some of the campaign with an injury.
The Stags will be back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 13 against Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m, in the final match of the regular season at Axelrood Pool. CMS held on to defeat the Sagehens 9-8 on Oct. 9 at Haldeman Pool and this final matchup will not only be for bragging rights, as always but also the top of the SCIAC could be at-stake as both teams trail Whittier by more than two matches. CMS closes its regular season against Caltech on the road on Nov. 16 at 11 a.m.