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Big Game Snapshot: Stags Polo Sink Hens

October 30, 2008

by Gui Schils

For the past several seasons, the Stags Water Polo team has fell at the hands of Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. This Wednesday, the Stags got another shot at their bitter rival, looking to buck the trend and sink the Hens. The game was packed, a standing room crowd under the lights of Pomona’s Haldeman Pool. The faithful had come out to see two of the conference’s best, with CMS carrying a 3-0 conference mark, and PP a 3-1 mark. The Stags came out hot, “as hot as we’ve come out all season” according to Jake Richardson (CMC JR).

The aquamen swam to a 3-0 advantage before the Hens tagged on a goal to make it 3-1. Andrew Cosentino (CMC SO) broke away soon after and stuffed a goal behind Pitzer’s All-American goalie Grant Cooper to close the first 4-1.

In the second, PP Coach Alex Rodriguez made some adjustments that allowed the Hens to tag on three goals. The Stags posted only one, sending the game into the halftime break up 5-4. The third quarter was not much better for CMS, as PP equalized the score 6-6, behind standout play by sophomores Ryan Balikian, Ben Hadley and Matthew Ward.

Going into the fourth, the game became a test of will and fitness. The Sagehens netted the first goal of the period, taking their first lead of the game, and cries of joy could be heard around the 5Cs as the home-crowd tried to break the Stags’ will. The Stags drove down twice looking for the equalizer to no avail.

With 90 seconds left, CMS drew an ejection and called a timeout. Coach Greg Lonzo drew up a play to freshman Vince “Clutch” Schiavoni, who ripped a shot past the Hens’ D to force overtime.

The first OT was scoreless, as the teams battled back and forth, missing opportunities and fighting tooth and nail. The second OT started similarly, with pressing defense that thwarted any good looks. Suddenly though, with a minute left, Cosentino broke free and scored the go-ahead goal. “The stands erupted, and our entire bench jumped up,” said Richardson.

The Hens would have one more chance to tie the game, and they managed to draw an ejection. The Stags fought hard a man down, but a Hen got position and a wide-open look. The crowds held their collective breath, and goalie Sean Wasserman (CMC SO) surged. Miss Wide!!

The Stags were led by Wasserman, Cosentino and Schiavoni. Defensively, Ben Draa (CMC JR) and Ari Wes (CMC FR) worked the Hens hard for six periods. It was the second consecutive game the Stags won in OT and the third come-from-behind win. For now, the team remains reserved, as they have three more tough SCIAC games coming up. “It was a storybook ending to an amazing game…finally, we gave the fans something to cheer about,” remarked Richardson.

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