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Jessica Salaz had 12 saves for the Athenas
Jessica Salaz had 12 saves for the Athenas

CMS Women's Water Polo Defeats Whittier 9-7, Earns Hosting Rights for Saturday's Semifinal Rematch

WHITTIER, Calif. – JessicaSalaz had 12 saves and eight different players scored goals as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team earned a big 9-7 road win over Whittier on Wednesday evening in the regular season finale at Slade Aquatics Center, clinching the second seed and the right to host a rematch on Saturday in the SCIAC Semifinals.

With the win, CMS ends the regular season with a 12-2 record in SCIAC play, the best winning percentage it has had in league play since the 1998 team was 7-1. Whittier, which could have pulled even with the Athenas and earned home pool advantage with a win, concludes the regular season at 10-4 in conference.

CMS led 4-3 at the half, but Whittier scored the first goal of the second half to tie the score 4-4 with 3:42 left in the third. Maddy Menard answered right back on a power play 36 seconds later to give CMS back the lead for good at 5-4, and Courtney Coleman stretched the lead to 6-4 on the next Athena possession. Emma Brezoczky then became the seventh different goal-scorer for the Athenas, making it a 7-4 CMS lead with just six seconds left in the third.

Whittier scored the first goal of the final stanza, but Cooper McKenna answered on a 6-on-5, making her the first two-goal scorer for the Athenas, and Dara Schoolcraft followed with her first to make it a 9-5 CMS lead. Whittier managed the final two goals, the last a harmless tally with 15 seconds left to close out the scoring at 9-7.

The game began as a defensive battle, before McKenna broke the scoreless deadlock with 2:39 left in the first quarter on a 6-on-5 opportunity. The score stayed 1-0 at the end of the first, behind six Salaz saves in the first quarter alone.

Christina Kulick stretched the CMS lead to 2-0 at the 6:36 mark of the second quarter on another power play, before Whittier got on the board on its own 6-on-5 chance 18 seconds later on a goal from Teresa Marchetti.

After the Poets tied it with 4:19 left in the half, Elise Power answered 20 seconds later to give CMS back the lead 3-2. Mia Adsen stretched the lead to 4-2 with 1:30 left in the half on a power play, but Whittier got one back to make it a 4-3 lead at intermission.  

The two teams will meet again on Saturday in the SCIAC semifinals, with the winner advancing to the Sunday championship game against the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Pomona-Pitzer and fourth-seeded Cal Lutheran.