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CMS will be trying for its second postseason tournament title (photo by Thomas Walker)
CMS will be trying for its second postseason tournament title (photo by Thomas Walker)

CMS Men's Water Polo Heads to Augustana in Pursuit of National Title

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's water polo team will be the top seed in the USA Water Polo Division III national championships, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

CMS will open the tournament at 2 p.m. local time (12 p.m. Pacific) when it faces hosts Augustana, while Redlands will face MIT in the other semifinal at 4 p.m. The two winners will meet at noon local time on Sunday, with the third-place game taking place at 10 a.m.

CMS heads to nationals with a 22-7 overall record on the season, on the heels of winning the SCIAC title over Redlands 9-4. The Stags and Bulldogs were tied for the No. 1 ranking in the nation, and had tied for the SCIAC regular season title with 11-1 records, with their only losses one-goal defeats to each other. 

The Stags won the rubber match within the SCIAC by taking the conference championship game, but the two teams could still meet one more time if both advance through in the semifinals. 

CMS is hoping to win its first USA Water Polo national title after finishing a close runner-up twice, once to Whittier in the inaugural year of the tournament in 2019, and then in overtime to Pomona-Pitzer in 2021. A year ago, Redlands caught fire late in the year to win the title over Cal Lutheran, knocking off CMS in the SCIAC semifinals to earn one of the bids to nationals. 

The Stags head to Augustana with a remarkably balanced offense, as the Stags went 22-7, but only won the SCIAC Offensive Player of the Week Award once, due to spreading its offensive attack around on a consistent basis. Nine players on the CMS roster have scored between 25 and 50 goals on the year.

First-year attacker Nick Kennedy, the league's Newcomer of the Year, leads CMS in points with 91 on 48 goals and 43 assists, while Cristian Pang is the Stags' top goal-scorer with 50. Luke (Bear) Weigle, the only SCIAC Offensive Player of the Week recipient on the team, has 39 goals, while Kyle Ballack (35), Auggie Aliaga (31), Jeffrey Koretz (29), Gavin Rosser (28), and Hassen Hove (27) have all contributed a goal a game or more.

Defensively, Aidan Nettekoven has been especially tough in the second half of the season, heading into nationals with just an 8.08 goals against average and a .521 save percentage. In SCIAC games, his average dipped to just 6.61, and he earned the SCIAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honor after holding Redlands to only four goals in the Stags' victory. 

For all tickets (which will be sold online only and not available at the event), as well as live streaming and stats information, visit the tournament home page at Augustana's website:

USA Water Polo Division III Championship