Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
CMS lining up for the USA Water Polo Championships
CMS at the 2019 USA Water Polo Championships

CMS Men's Water Polo Opens at Home This Weekend at Inland Empire Classic

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team will be back at Axelrood Pool this weekend for the first time since a dramatic 2019 SCIAC Semifinal win over Pomona-Pitzer, serving as a co-host of the Inland Empire Classic.

CMS will play four matches in two days at Axelrood, facing off against Concordia (Irvine) on Saturday at 9 a.m., and then facing Long Beach State at 2:40. On Sunday, the schedule gets even more challenging, as the Stags meet USC at 11:30 a.m. and then take on UC Irvine at 2:45 p.m.

The Pomona-Pitzer win in 2019 saw CMS rally from a 7-2 deficit after the first quarter (and 9-4 at the half) for a 12-11 win after a long-range tiebreaking goal in the last minute from Ethan Lewis. That win not only sent the Stags through to the SCIAC finals, but it also earned them a bid to the first-ever USA Water Polo Division III Championship. CMS defeated Johns Hopkins in the USA Water Polo Division III semifinals, before a close defeat to Whittier in the championship match. 

The Stags were hoping to build off that performance in 2020, before losing the season to the pandemic, but CMS still hopes to use the momentum from that postseason run to keep building the program up as a perennial national title contender. 

CMS lost two classes worth of talented players in the meantime, but three players are back this fall who would have played their final seasons in 2020, including fifth-year senior CJ Box, Christian Thornton and Robert Driscoll. Box has been a key weapon at center throughout his career, while Thornton emerged as one of the team's top weapons in the latter half of the 2019 season, and Driscoll has been a consistent scorer throughout his three seasons so far. 

Senior Will Clark as led the Stags in scoring in each of his first two seasons and earned All-America honors as a first-year, and will likely be the focal point of the team's offense this fall. Fellow seniors Sam Harrison, Eric Warmoth and Andrew Wraith have also been regular members of the CMS rotation in their first two seasons. Senior Noah Smith has two years experience as a regular starter in goal and will anchor the CMS defense during his senior campaign.  

Juniors Kyle Ballack, Ben Weldon and Noah Weldon in their rookie seasons in 2019. Nick Hernandez and Nick Maramica are also back for their junior years and will look to increase their roles, while two years worth of recruits join the program to give the Stags exceptional depth. 

Competition was taken away from the Stags last year, and Box says that he 

"I'm probably the most excited that I've ever been to play water polo," he said. "I think in some ways the pandemic really helped us build relationships out of the pool, work hard, show our commitment even when there wasn't anything necessarily specific to work for, and that's just really carried over."

After hosting the Inland Empire Classic, CMS will next be in action when it opens SCIAC play on Saturday, Sept. 18, facing Caltech in the morning at 11 a.m., and then a rematch with Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m. It's been two years, but Box says he still remembers the last Pomona-Pitzer win well. 

"I remember every last moment," he said. "I see pictures of us on the deck and the emotion that came with that. As Kobe said, 'it's not over til it's over.'"