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Len Korol had two goals for the Stags in defeat
Len Korol had two goals for the Stags in defeat

Fourth-Quarter Run Leads Pomona-Pitzer Past CMS for SCIAC Men's Water Polo Title

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Rob Driscoll beat the third-quarter buzzer to tie the score 5-5 and Eric Warmoth gave CMS a 6-5 lead early in the fourth, but Pomona-Pitzer responded with a 5-0 run and went on to capture a 12-8 win in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament championship match on Sunday morning at Haldeman Pool.

With the win, Pomona-Pitzer finished off a season in which it went undefeated in both the SCIAC regular season and postseason, and earns the right to host the 2021 USA Water Polo Division III Championships on Dec. 4-5. CMS, which will also compete in the DIII nationals in two weeks, slips to 16-11 and suffers only its second loss in its last 11 games, both on the road to the Sagehens. 

CMS took a 3-2 lead at the half in a defensive battle, as Len Korol scored the only goal of the second quarter for the Stags. CMS had an opportunity to take a larger lead at the half, but Kellen Grant had a couple of key saves for the Sagehens, including a sprawling save on a breakaway in the closing seconds of the half to keep it a one-goal game. 

The Sagehens started the second half by converting on two 6-on-5 opportunities to take a 4-3 lead. Driscoll tied the score with 2:34 left, and after Pomona-Pitzer went ahead by one, Driscoll scored as the third-quarter buzzer sounded to make it a 5-5 game. 

Warmoth then converted a power play with 6:45 to play to give the Stags a 6-5 lead and a burst of momentum, but the Sagehens answered right back 22 seconds later, and kept the momentum the rest of the way.  A 5-0 run put CMS behind 10-6, until CJ Box snapped the run with 2:17 left, and the Stags earned a stop to try to make a late comeback, but Pomona-Pitzer earned a steal and an extra-man opportunity and converted to put the game away. 

Driscoll and Korol each had two goals for CMS, while Will Clark and Cristian Pang added first-quarter goals. Noah Smith had nine saves in goal for the Stags, while Grant had 10 for the Sagehens, who were led by three goals apiece from Noah Sasaki and Sam Sasaki.

CMS will next be in action when it returns to the USA Water Polo Division III Championships for the second time, after competing in the inaugural event in 2019. CMS defeated Johns Hopkins in the semifinals that year, and then battled Whittier in the championship, before finishing as runner-up when the Poets earned the first championship with a 5-3 win.