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CMS celebrating a goal
CMS opens the 2023 season at Air Force's tournament

CMS Men's Water Polo Opens This Weekend as Preseason No. 3 Team in DIII

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team gets its 2023 season underway this weekend when it travels to the Rare Air Challenge at Air Force on Saturday and Sunday.

The Stags enter the new year as the preseason No. 3 ranked team in Division III, behind only Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer. Redlands won the USA Water Polo Division III championship last year, a tournament which CMS finished as the runner-up at in 2019 and 2021, and the Stags enter the new year hoping to make it back and hoist the championship trophy. 

CMS has most of its key players returning from a year ago, including its top eight scorers and both goalkeepers, as it embarks on that quest, including two first-team All-Americans. Aidan Nettekoven earned the honor as a goalkeeper, while Luke (Bear) Weigle captured it as a center. 

Both players also took home SCIAC honors, with Nettekoven winning the Defensive Player of the Year, and Weigle earned the Newcomer of the Year. Weigle led CMS with 58 goals on the season, while Nettekoven had a .584 save percentage and a 9.10 goals against average in conference games. 

Thomas Walker also earned honorable mention All-America honors in his rookie season a year ago, and earned a spot on the All-SCIAC second team. Senior Cristian Pang was also on the All-SCIAC second team as well, giving CMS four returning postseason honorees as it heads into the season.

Walker led CMS in points with 69, with 49 goals and 20 assists on the year, while Pang had 61 points on 36 goals and a team-high 25 assists. 

CMS will have plenty of weapons to choose from as five other players return with double-digit goals from a year ago. Kyle Ballack had 23 goals and 22 assists, Gavin Rosser had 28 goals and 15 assists, while Auggie Aliaga (18-16-34), Eli Schwarz (14-15-29), William Thomas (8-20-28), and Len Korol (11-2-13) were all key components to the Stag attack. 

The Stags also dealt with significant injury issues last year that hurt their depth, as Korol missed over a month, while Donovan Davidson and Harry Rinker saw limited game action, and Ivey Gehring missed the entire season. 

Jake Taylor split time with Nettekoven in goal last year and had an immediate impact, while Rohan Rhodes, whose older brother, Ashwin Rhodes, plays center, will join the goalkeeper rotation as well. CMS also has six new field players on the roster this year: Gavin Netherton, Jack Bryant, Stryker Scales, Jeffrey Koretz, Hassen Hove and Nick Kennedy, giving the Stags one of their deepest teams in recent memory. 

CMS opens play at the Rare Air Challenge on Saturday with games against Ottawa and Johns Hopkins, before closing out against No. 5 UC Davis on Sunday. The Stags will then play their first matches at home when they serve as one of the hosts for the Inland Empire Classic, Facing Long Beach State, Concordia, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego next Saturday and Sunday.