Kyle Ballack led CMS with three goals on the day (photo by Thomas Walker)
Kyle Ballack led CMS with three goals on the day (photo by Thomas Walker)

CMS Earns Spot in SCIAC Finals, DIII Nationals, With 12-5 Win over Chapman

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Aidan Nettekoven had 13 saves and Kyle Ballack scored three goals as the top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team earned a 12-5 win over Chapman in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament Semifinals on Friday evening at Axelrood Pool.

With the win, CMS advances to meet Redlands on Sunday at 11 at Axelrood Pool for the SCIAC Championship. The semifinal wins also guarantee both CMS and Redlands berths in the USA Water Polo Division III Championship, which will be held on Dec. 2-3 at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. 

William Thomas and Luke (Bear) Weigle each had two goals for the Stags, while Nick Kennedy had a goal and three assists, and Eli Schwarz had a goal and an assist. 

The Stags led 5-2 at the end of the first quarter, and Chapman's Spencer Snow scored one minute into the second quarter, and the score remained frozen at 5-3 until halftime. After intermission, though, the Stags were able to get their offense clicking as Weigle scored on the first possession and Ballack scored on the second to make it 7-3 just one minute into the second half, forcing a quick Chapman timeout. 

The Panthers were able to get a goal back to cut it to 7-4, but Len Korol answered right back to make it a four-goal lead again. CMS took possession with 10 seconds left in the quarter and called timeout to set up a play before the period ended, and Gavin Rosser made the strategy pay with a back-breaking goal with three seconds left to give the Stags a 9-4 lead going into the fourth. 

Kennedy and Thomas followed with fourth-quarter transition goals 22 seconds apart to break it open, and Ballack finished off his hat trick with a penalty shot with 1:01 to go. 

CMS and Redlands split during the regular season and shared the regular season SCIAC title by both finishing 11-1. The Stags won at Axelrood Pool 9-8 on a goal from Kennedy with two seconds left, after CMS pulled its goalie for an extra attacker. Redlands won the rematch in sudden death on Saturday 12-11, leaving the teams even in the standings, and in head-to-head goal differential. CMS earned the tiebreaker for the top seed based on a greater goal differential against the third-place team (Pomona-Pitzer).