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Aidan Nettekoven had a career-high 19 saves (photo by Keilee Bessho)
Aidan Nettekoven had a career-high 19 saves (photo by Keilee Bessho)

Nettekoven's 19-Save Effort Helps CMS to 11-10 Road Win over Redlands

REDLANDS, Calif. – Aidan Nettekoven had a career-high 19 saves, and added four steals, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo captured a pivotal SCIAC win with an 11-10 road victory over Redlands on Wednesday evening at the Thompson Aquatics Center.

With the win, CMS moves to 10-11 on the year and 5-2 in the SCIAC, while Redlands slips to 10-10 overall and 3-3 in league play. A Bulldog win would have enabled them to pass CMS in the conference standings, but the Stag victory keeps them a game-and-a-half in front in the race for the SCIAC Tournament bids (top four).

Nettekoven's 19 saves passed his previous career high of 17 set two weeks ago against La Verne. He also had 16 last week against Cal Lutheran, earning him the SCIAC Defensive Player of the Week honor.

The game was deadlocked at 6-6 with three minutes left in the third quarter, when CMS went on a 3-0 run to take a 9-6 lead into the fourth. Thomas Walker scored on a 6-on-5 with 2:51 to go in the third to give CMS the lead for good. Just 49 seconds later, Cristian Pang scored his second penalty shot of the game to give CMS its first two-goal advantage of the night at 8-6, and Kyle Ballack followed with a goal to extend the run to 3-0 and put the Stags up 9-6.

Redlands was able to get two goals back in a span of just under a minute to make the score 9-8 with 2:34 to go, but Gavin Rosser responded 31 seconds later to give CMS an insurance goal with 2:03 left. The Bulldogs took advantage of a power play with 1:43 left to close to within a single goal again, but Nettekoven denied a tying effort from Andrew Higginson with just under a minute left for his 19th save. Luke (Bear) Weigle then helped seal it with a goal with just 16 seconds left. Redlands added one more with six seconds left, but CMS was able to run out the clock and come away with the road.

The Stags did not score in the first quarter, but Nettekoven had four saves to help keep it just a 1-0 deficit heading into the second. Thomas Walker finally ended the drought for the Stags with a goal with 4:51 left in the half to cut the deficit to 2-1, and Cristian Pang followed just 49 seconds later with a penalty shot to tie it up. Auggie Aliaga and Len Korol scored in the final 1:16 of the half to give the Stags a 4-3 lead heading into the break.

The two teams then exchanged goals early in the third, with Rosser answering a Redlands score 22 seconds later, only to have the Bulldogs knot it back up at 5-5 just 12 seconds after Rosser had scored. After an exchange of stops, Korol scored his second off a Pang assist to give the Stags the lead at 6-5 with 3:56 left in the third.

Pang, Korol, Rosser and Walker each had two goals for CMS, with Pang also adding two assists.

CMS will have an off day on Saturday before returning home next Wednesday for a big Sixth Street Rivalry meeting with Pomona-Pitzer at Axelrood Pool, beginning at 7 p.m.