Auggie Aliaga's goal with one second left was the difference (photo by Stella Cheng)
Auggie Aliaga's goal with one second left was the difference (photo by Stella Cheng)

CMS Men's Water Polo Escapes with Dramatic 13-12 Overtime Win at Cal Lutheran

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Auggie Aliaga, who put on a goalie cap as an extra attacker for the final offensive possession with 10 seconds left in overtime, scored the tiebreaking goal with just one second left on the clock as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team escaped with a 13-12 overtime win at Cal Lutheran on Wednesday afternoon at Samuelson Aquatics Center.

With the win, CMS moves to 11-6 on the season and 2-0 in SCIAC, with all six of its losses coming to teams ranked in the top 12 in the nation in Division I. Cal Lutheran falls to 4-10 overall and 2-1 in SCIAC after opening league play with wins over Caltech and La Verne.

The Stags came into the contest ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III poll, and tied for 20th in the nation in the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches national poll (with Brown) for all divisions, where they debuted on Wednesday afternoon. Cal Lutheran came in ranked No. 6 in Division III.

CMS had a 9-4 lead in regulation, and a 12-9 lead at the end of the first overtime, but Cal Lutheran had furious rallies to tie it both times. Aliaga set up a goal from Kyle Ballack to start the overtime, then scored another to make it 11-9, and Nick Kennedy scored with just one second left to make it a 12-9 lead heading into the second extra session.

With just 1:41 to go, Cal Lutheran was able to score on the next three possessions to tie it back up again, with Jack Bradbury scoring the equalizer with 10 seconds left. CMS called timeout and pulled goalie Jake Taylor, replacing him with Aliaga as a seventh field player and the net empty. Aliaga waited until the final second and then fired from distance for the game-winner.

The Stags used a 6-0 run spanning both halves to take a 9-4 lead in the fourth quarter, and seemed to have control, but Cal Lutheran came all the way back to tie the score 9-9 with 21 seconds left on a goal from Luke Matthies.

CMS trailed 4-2 in the second quarter, but managed to pull even at the break on goals from Aliaga and Ivey Gehring. Ballack then put CMS ahead with 5:50 left in the third on a power play goal, the first lead of the game for the Stags.

Aliaga followed with his second goal of the game, and Cristian Pang closed out the third-quarter scoring with 32 seconds left to give the Stags a 7-4 lead going into the fourth. Pang added his second to start the fourth quarter, before Cal Lutheran ended its long drought with 6:44 to go to close it to 8-5. Taylor made three saves in the next two minutes, though, to help prevent any comeback thoughts.

Aliaga finished with four goals and an assist, Pang had two goals and three assists, and Nick Kennedy had two goals and two assists. Taylor had 13 saves and four steals in goal.  

CMS will be back in action on Saturday when it hosts Occidental for an 11 a.m. contest at Axelrood Pool.