Rossman Ties it With Two Seconds Left, But Pomona-Pitzer Wins in Sudden Death

Zack Rossman winds up for the tying goal with two seconds left (photo by Tessa Guerra)
Zack Rossman winds up for the tying goal with two seconds left (photo by Tessa Guerra)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Senior Zack Rossman scored the tying goal with two seconds left in regulation, but the Pomona-Pitzer men's water polo team was able to win in sudden death on the fourth goal from Dylan Elliott to take a 10-9 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Wednesday evening at Axelrood Pool.

The loss drops CMS to 15-10 overall and 10-3 in the SCIAC, moving into a tie for second place with Pomona-Pitzer. The good news for the Stags was that since the loss was by only one goal the tiebreaker for home-pool advantage in the rematch next Friday in the SCIAC Semifinals goes to the Stags if things hold the way they are. The two teams split head-to-head with each team winning by one goal, which negates the first two tiebreakers (head-to-head results, and goal differential head-to-head). The third tiebreaker is record against the first-place team, Whittier, which CMS split with, while Pomona-Pitzer dropped both meetings. 

The Stags never led in regulation, but Rossman's clutch goal enabled the Stags to tie the score for the sixth time. The play began when sophomore Will Clark took a pass from Rossman and was double-teamed, but was able to flip the ball back in Rossman's direction before the pressure could cause a turnover. Rossman swam forward into the empty space and let loose with a rocket into the upper-right corner, which hit the bar and crossed the line to tie the score. 

After neither team scored in the first three minutes of overtime, senior Ethan Lewis gave CMS its first lead of the night with a goal 21 seconds after the teams switched ends. Pomona-Pitzer answered back less than a minute later to tie the score back up again at 9-9 and Rossman's bid for the game-winner was saved in the closing seconds by James Kelbert. 

The match then moved into a second overtime session, this one a three-minute sudden death period, and neither team could find the net as the teams went back to their sidelines. The Sagehens then won the sprint in the third overtime, and 22 seconds later, Elliott scored his fourth goal of the game off a pass from Zach Senator to end it. 

CMS fell behind 2-0 early before breaking the ice with seven seconds left in the first quarter on a goal from sophomore Andrew Wraith. Junior Christian Thornton tied the score on a goal early in the second quarter, marking the 100th point of his career (67 goals, three assists). Pomona-Pitzer had the next two goals, before sophomore Sam Harrison ended the first half with a goal with 1:59 left to make it a 4-3 Sagehen lead going into the break. 

Lewis started the second half with his first goal of the night from long distance to tie the score at 4-4, just beating the shot clock. Thornton answered an Elliott goal to tie the score 5-5, and Clark twice answered Sagehen goals to tie it 6-6 and 7-7. Elliott's third goal gave Pomona-Pitzer an 8-7 lead with 4:14 to go, which was two seconds away from holding up as the game-winner, before Rossman forced into extra sessions. 

Kelbert came on in relief for Pomona-Pitzer at halftime and had a big day with 12 saves over 28 minutes. Sophomore Noah Smith had seven saves and five steals for CMS.  

The Stags will close out the regular season at Caltech on Saturday at 11 a.m., with a chance to sew up the right to host Pomona-Pitzer in the semifinals next Friday.