The top-seeded Whittier men's water polo team secured a 13-12 victory over second-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) to seal the 2019 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament title Sunday morning at the Slade Aquatic Center in Whittier, Calif.
With the win, Whittier improves to 19-12 on the season and will host the USA Water Polo Division III Collegiate Men's Water Polo National Championship on December 7-8. CMS, which also advances to the Division III Championship, moves to 17-11 overall. Johns Hopkins and MIT round out the championship field. This is the Poets' third SCIAC Postseason Tournament championship having previously won it in 2013 and 2014.
Sunday's SCIAC Tournament final was a back-and-forth affair that saw neither team mount more than a three-goal cushion. CMS held a slim, 3-2 advantage after eight minutes of play, with Whittier holding a 5-4 advantage in the second quarter to even the game at 7-7 at intermission. The Poets then held a 3-2 edge in the third period, while the sides netted three goals each in the fourth stanza allowing Whittier to hold on for a 13-12 victory.
Holding a 10-9 edge heading to the fourth period, Whittier extended its lead to 12-9 as Maxwell Murphy and tournament MVP Dominick Nevarez scored back-to-back goals to give the Poets a three-goal cushion with 4:41 to play in the frame. Zack Rossman answered for CMS with a 5-meter goal, before Paul Pittion pushed the lead back to three with 1:26 to play. A power play goal by the Stags' Christian Thornton with 54 seconds, followed by a 5-meter marker by Thornton with just two seconds on the clock pulled CMS to within one at 13-12 but it was not enough as Whittier fended off the late rally to complete the win.
Thornton was terrific in the losing effort for CMS, netting five goals, while Eric Warmoth, Will Clark, Rossman, Sam Harrison, Andrew Wraith, Nick Britt, and Koss Klobucher each added a goal.
Murphy netted three goals for Whittier, while Nevarez and Michah Kamai added two each. Ricardo Reyes Jr., Hans Zdolsek, Cornelis Kriek, Pittion, Enrico Antunes, and Eric Borunda added a goal each to help seal the win for the Poets.
Between the posts, Murat Ersoz and Dylan Woodhouse combined for 11 saves for Whittier, with Woodhouse notching seven to get the win, while CMS's goalie Noah Smith made eight saves.