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Isabel Del Villar's buzzer-beater in OT set up the game-winner
Isabel Del Villar's buzzer-beater in OT set up the game-winner

Back-to-Back Buzzer Beaters Give CMS Women's Water Polo Dramatic OT Win at La Verne

LA VERNE, Calif. - Isabel Del Villar beat the buzzer in the first overtime session to tie the game 10-10 and force sudden death, and Cooper McKenna scored from mid-pool at the shot clock buzzer with the game-winner on the next possession, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's water polo team won an 11-10 thriller at La Verne in its SCIAC opener on Wednesday afternoon.

With the win, CMS improves to 5-7 overall on the year and starts out conference play 1-0. La Verne slips to 2-9 overall and 0-1 in the league with the loss.

Nancy Trinh scored with 2:06 left in overtime to give La Verne its first lead of the entire contest, and Kate Carlyle stopped a penalty shot on the ensuing possession. However, CMS was able to get a key turnover late and called timeout with seven seconds left. Goalkeeper Mason Spencer came forward to initiate the final play, and flipped a pass laterally to Del Villar, who skipped a shot into the upper corner of the net to send the game into sudden death.

McKenna won the sprint, but CMS was forced out of its offense by La Verne's pressure. Del Villar was pinned near the sideline, and with the shot clock nearly expiring, she found McKenna in the center of the pool, and she was able to fire a shot just in time, which tucked into the upper-left corner to give CMS the win.

The drama brought back some déjà vu from a year ago, as CMS defeated La Verne on the first possession of sudden death overtime at home. McKenna also had the game-winner with one second left in a win over Cal Lutheran.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, and Caitlin Muñoz ended a 10 minute scoreless drought for both teams with a tiebreaking goal just over one minute into overtime making it 9-8, but Jassmine Kezman was able to answer for the Leopards to deadlock the game again at 9-9 heading into the second half of the six-minute extra session.

The CMS defense held the Leopards without a goal in the first quarter, as Natalie Stearns needed to make just one save in the first eight minutes. Elise Power and Del Villar scored for the Athenas, and McKenna won the opening sprint of the second quarter and scored to put CMS ahead 3-0.

La Verne got on the board on a 6-on-5 on its next possession, and were within 4-3 midway through the second, before Fiona Murphy and Jessi Beyer struck for goals 31 seconds apart to get the lead back up to 6-3. The Leopards cut the lead to a single goal five times before tying it at 8-8 with one second left in the third quarter, and then neither team could score in the fourth.

Del Villar and McKenna each finished with three goals for the Athenas, while Power finished with two.

CMS will be back in action on Saturday, when it travels to Redlands for a SCIAC game at 11 a.m., and then comes back home to face Biola at 4 p.m.