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Seniors Jessi Beyer, Christina Kulick and Isabel Dhillon
Seniors Jessi Beyer, Christina Kulick and Isabel Dhillon

CMS Women's Water Polo Picked Second in SCIAC Preseason Poll

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team was picked to finish second in the SCIAC In a preseason vote of the conference's coaches, the league office announced today, two days before the Athenas open their season against a pair of Division I opponents.

Defending champion Pomona-Pitzer was picked first in the poll, with Cal Lutheran third, Whittier fourth and La Verne fifth. Chapman, Redlands, Occidental and Caltech rounded out the poll in the No. 6-9 spots. 

CMS enters the new season optimistic that it can challenge for the Division III national title, after finishing second in the SCIAC last year with a 12-2 league record, the second-best winning percentage in program history. The Athenas were upset by Whittier in the SCIAC Semifinals, denying them a chance at competing at the USA Water Polo Division III nationals, and they spent this offseason focused on taking that next step in the program's rapid development. 

CMS returns its top three scorers from a year ago as it embarks on that quest. Cooper McKenna led the way a year ago with 40 goals and 51 points, followed closely by Christina Kulick with 49 points (34 goals and 15 assists). Mia Adsen tallied 34 goals and 10 assists for 44 points, while Dara Schoolcraft anchored the defense and scored 19 goals.

There are a couple of holes to fill, as Maddy Menard graduated as the team's top feeder (26 assists) and Jessica Salaz and Ruth Efe graduated as the team's 1-2 goalie punch. Attacker Jessie Beyer and center Isabel Dhillon enter their senior seasons looking to maintain their roles as key members of the CMS field player rotation, as will Elise Power, Cassandra Ruedy, Ka'imi Duncklee and Olivia Cairns

In goal, Maribella Munoz-Jimenez is back after appearing in eight games a year ago, tallying a .556 save percentage and a 7.36 goals against average. Three first-years will also compete for minutes in goal (Mason Spencer, Natalie Stearns, Angelina Tsai). The three rookie goalies are part of a 10-player class that is expected to have an immediate impact, along with field players Alina Hernandez, Fiona Murphy, Grace Clark, Caitlin Muñoz, Isabel Del Villar, Alicia Krasner and Kaitlyn Kong

CMS opens its 2023 season on Saturday with two matches at Long Beach State, facing the host 49ers at 10:30 a.m. and Loyola Marymount at 5:30 p.m.