Defense Leads CMS Women's Water Polo to Key 7-6 Road Win over Redlands

Jessica Salaz had eight saves and five steals to help CMS to a 7-6 road win over Redlands
Jessica Salaz had eight saves and five steals to help CMS to a 7-6 road win over Redlands

REDLANDS, Calif. - Freshman goalie Jessica Salaz had eight saves, including one on a penalty shot in the second half, and added five steals, and junior Aracelia Aldrete had three goals as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team was able to prevail with a tight 7-6 road win over Redlands on Tuesday evening in a SCIAC matchup at the Thompson Aquatic Center.

CMS improves to 4-8 overall on the season with the win, including 2-1 in the SCIAC, while Redlands falls to 8-11 and 2-2 in league play with the loss. 

The Bulldogs scored first for what turned out to be their only lead of the contest, and CMS wasn't able to break through for its first goal until 37 seconds remained in the first quarter, as freshman Alex Szymczak scored off a pass from senior Kaitlyn Eng to tie the score at 1-1. 

The momentum carried over into the second quarter, as the Athenas scored two straight goals to extend their lead to 3-1. Sophomore Amelia Ayala scored on the first possession of the second frame, then stole a pass, leading to the first goal from Aldrete with 6:41 left in the half. 

Redlands answered right back with a goal from Hunter Olivier to pull within 3-2, before Szymczak scored her second of the game with 2:03 left in the second quarter to give the Athenas a 4-2 lead at the break. 

Redlands scored in the first minute of the third quarter to close within one, and had a great chance to tie, but Salaz came up big by stopping a penalty shot to keep it a 4-3 lead. Moments later, Aldrete scored her second of the game off a feed from freshman Addi Duvall on a 6-on-5 to put CMS ahead 5-3 with 2:09 left in the third. 

Breanna O'Dea scored with just two seconds left in the third to close the lead to 5-4 heading into the fourth quarter. Salaz and sophomore Chandlyr Denaro had key steals on back-to-back Redlands possessions early in the fourth to keep it a one-goal lead, and Duvall tallied an insurance goal with 4:41 to play.

The Bulldogs again closed within one on a goal with 2:28 left from Holly Kvanvig, and had a chance to tie coming out of a timeout, but Salaz came up with her eighth save of the contest. Aldrete then finished off her hat trick from a sharp angle to the right of the cage off a pass from Duvall to make it 7-5 with 1:08 to play.

Redlands had one final chance as Katelyn Jenkins scored quickly with 57 seconds left to cut the lead back to one, and the Bulldogs picked up a steal at the end of the shot clock. However, with time winding down, Kvanvig tried a lob shot from long distance that hit off the crossbar and fell to the side, where Salaz was able to pull it in and swim out the clock to secure the win. 

CMS will be back in action on Thursday night when it hosts Whittier at Axelrood Pool for a 7 p.m. contest.