CLAREMONT, Calif. — A defensive minded game featured key offensive plays late as Cal Lutheran women's water polo scored two goals in the final 1:06, including the game winner with 23 second left, as the Regals completed a huge comeback and defeated the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas, 7-6, on Wednesday in Axelrood Pool.
Lexi Rond was able to get deep into the defense, holding off an Athenas' defender, as she received a nice pass from Kaitlin Gardhouse. Rond then fired a no-look game winning shot past the goalkeeper as CLU took a late lead. CMS had one final shot to send the game to overtime, but the Regals defense kept them far from the goal and the last try was saved by Bailey Meyer. It was one of her 10 saves.
CLU faced adversity in the second half, and was down for most of it. However, the Regals showed up when it meant the most, scoring three goals in the final quarter. Mardell Ramirez made the game winner possible as she scored the equalizer with 1:17 left.
With the win, CLU kept a firm grasp on the No. 2 spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings. The Regals improved to 9-1 in conference play and are 16-7 overall. It is Cal Lutheran's sixth win in a row and 10th in the last 11. The loss dropped CMS to 4-4 in SCIAC and 6-12 on the season.
On top of two goals, Rond recorded an impressive six drawn ejections. She now has 84 on the season, just five behind the second-most and 12 from the single-season mark.
The offense and defense saw many Regals contributing as six players scored and eight tallied an assist. Gardhouse, Ramirez and Mackenzie Thomas led the defense with two steals each. CLU recorded 11 in all.
Cal Lutheran got on the board first as Jessica Diaz scored just a minute and a half into the game. Rond made it a 2-0 lead one minute later and the Regals' offense was off to a great start. CMS fired back, scoring two goals late in the period, and the game was tied going to the second quarter.
The Regals took the lead back as Nikki Roed scored with 5:49 left in the half. The Athenas answered, again, and tied the score at 3 with 1:28 left in the half. CMS added another goal on its next possession and had a 4-3 lead at the break.
A few plays into the second half, CLU drew an exclusion on CMS. After a timeout, the Regals performed a play to perfection as Christin Hirn found the back of the net and tied the game at 4. Key saves from Meyer had the game tied for most of the third quarter. CMS finally broke through and took the lead back with 2:21 left in the quarter. The game remained super close as CMS had a 5-4 lead with one quarter left to play.
Thomas started the fourth quarter with a goal for the Regals and the game was tied once again. CMS took back the lead, making it 6-5, with 5:03 left. Both defenses stepped up after that and held the offenses to no goals over the next four minutes. The Regals looked to tie the game with 1:17 left as they took a timeout. CLU converted on their offensive possession, ending the drought, as Ramirez scored with 1:06 remaining. With 23 seconds left, Rond finished off the Athenas as CLU completed the comeback, and secured a big win against CMS.
The Regals look to push their win streak to seven against the Tigers of Occidental. Cal Lutheran host Oxy on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Box Score: CLU 7, CMS 6
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director