It was a tale of two matches as the placings were decided at the inaugural USA Water Polo Division III Championship at the Slade Aquatics Center in Whittier, California, on Sunday.
In the third place match, it was an offensive onslaught as the teams combined for 33 goals as MIT came out with the 20-13 victory.
In the championship match, goals were at a premium as the goalkeepers combined for 28 saves in a 5-3 victory for #1 Whittier.
Championship – #1 Whittier vs. #2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
The goalkeeping and defense took center stage in the Division III Championship match as winning goalkeeper Murat Ersoz notched 15 saves (.833 save percentage) and runnerup Noah Smith added 13 stops (.722).
No player scored more than one goal in the 5-3 decision. Whittier made 5 of 28 shots (.179), while CMS scored 3 of its 29 attempts (.103). The Poets were better on powerplays, converting 3 of 6, while the Stags were 1 of 10.
Whittier jumped on the scoreboard just 26 seconds into the match care of Micah Kamai (7:34). Koss Klobucher (5:22) knotted it up two minutes later for CMS. CJ Box (3:51) gave the Stags the 2-1 lead after the opening quarter.
A powerplay score by Dominick Nevarez just 16 seconds into the second period had the teams level at 2, then Maxwell Murphy converted a powerplay two minutes later (5:29) to give Whittier its first lead at 3-2. Eric Borunda (2:38) and Carlos Heredie Viteri (1:33) capped off a 4-0 Poets run in the stanza.
The teams combined for 13 shots in the third quarter, but all came up empty. Whittier missed three shots, had three saved and hit the post once. CMS had four attempts saved, missed one and hit the post once.
Will Clark made good on a powerplay early in the fourth quarter (7:21), snapping a 20-minute scoring drought for the Stags. The teams combined for 10 shots down the stretch, but the score remained at 5-3 as time wound down. CMS had three shots saved, one blocked, missed once and hit the post once. For its part, Whittier had two saved, one blocked and missed once.
Third Place – #4 MIT def. #5 Johns Hopkins 20-13
MIT secured third place in the inaugural USA Water Polo Division III Championship bookending the match with seven goals in the first and fourth quarters of a 20-13 win over Johns Hopkins.
Clyde Huibregtse dropped in seven goals for the Engineers, while Christian Schillinger added five scores and Patroklos Stefanou notched a hat trick. Goalkeeper Hayden Niederreiter made 12 saves and boasted a .500 save percentage in the match.
MIT made 52.6 percent of its shots (20 of 38), including its lone penalty shot, while JHU scored on 13 of its 30 attempts (.433), including a 7-of-12 effort in powerplay attempts.
The Blue Jays scored first, converting a powerplay chance with a Jayden Kunwar score (7:40). MIT answered 13 seconds later as Huibregtse found the back of the net (7:27). Schillinger put the Engineers on top (6:54), before Kunwar leveled the score (4:42). Schillinger made good on a powerplay (4:03) and Sawyer Koetters followed (3:36) to kick off a 4-0 MIT run. Schillinger (2:14) and Huibregtse (2:14) made it 6-2, before Chris Freese stopped the rally with a powerplay score (0:55). Huibregtse chipped in his third goal of the quarter to give the Engineers a 7-3 lead (0:36).
A power play goal by Sullivan (7:26) had JHU within three early in the second quarter, but Heibregtse (7:15) and Kaden DiMarco (6:00) responded for MIT. The Blue Jays cut the margin to three (9-6) with scores by Sullivan (5:30) and Stephen Schmidt (3:40). Huibregtse (3:16) and Sullivan (0:18) traded scores to end the half at 10-7 MIT.
Kevin Downey buried a penalty shot (6:50), Stefanou notched his first goal of the game (5:14) and Huibregtse followed (4:47) to give the Engineers a 13-7 advantage. Sullivan (3:46) and Banks (3:17, 0:01) fought back for Johns Hopkins to make it 13-10 with eight minutes to play.
Just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, the MIT lead was down to two after a Stephen Schmidt power play. Stefanou (7:12) and Miller Geschke (6:21) countered for the Engineers, but Banks chipped in another score (5:25) to keep the Blue Jays in striking distance at 15-12. A powerplay gave Stefanou another goal (4:56), while Koetters (2:59) and Huibregtse (1:56) made it a six-point game. Jacob Whitaker broke through for the Blue Jays (0:49), but Schillinger put in a pair of goals six seconds apart (0:26, 0:20) to close out the scoring in the 20-13 victory.
With the win, the Engineers avenged a 16-12 loss to JHU in the title match of the CWPA Division III Eastern Championship (Oct. 27).
MIT finishes the season at 12-15 overall, while Johns Hopkins ends with an 11-23 mark.