Two weeks removed from the Santa Clara Rodeo, the men’s water polo team hosted the Southern Championships last weekend. The Orange and Blue defended their home pool in historic fashion, defeating George Washington, Washington & Jefferson, Navy and Mercyhurst to capture its first-ever Southern Championships Title. The title marked the first conference title for the Bison since 1985. Additionally, the four wins from Nov. 2-4 calculated a 9-1 record at the Kinney Natatorium.
The Bison started the tournament by defeating George Washington 13-12 in a second sudden death overtime period. The Orange and Blue got out to a fast start, taking a 4-2 lead after the first quarter. George Washington responded by scoring two goals in the second while holding the Bison scoreless. In the third, the Orange and Blue regained the lead by scoring four goals to the Colonials’ three. Trailing throughout the fourth, the Colonials responded by tying the game with 21 seconds left in regulation. George Washington struck first in overtime with what would be their final goal of the game. The Bison pushed the game to sudden death overtime by scoring on their first possession of the second overtime period. After a scoreless first sudden death overtime period, co-captain Brian Barron ’13 found the back of the net in the second sudden death overtime period. Co-captains Barron and Matt Napleton ’13 demonstrated their leadership in the victory. Barron scored on three occasions, tallied five assists and won all eight sprints while Napleton registered 20 saves. Other strong performances came from Jack Else ’14, Mike Kimble ’14 and Stefan Aleksic ’16 who all had multi-goal games with four goals, two goals and two goals, respectively. Else and Kimble also combined for an impressive 11 ejections drawn in the first Bison win of the weekend.
To start their games on Nov. 3, the Bison defeated Washington & Jefferson 18-8. The Orange and Blue scored early and often, finding the back of the net seven times in the first quarter while preventing the opposition from scoring. The second quarter was more of the same for the Bison, as they outscored their opponent 5-1. With a comfortable 11 goal margin, the Orange and Blue coasted to a 18-8 victory in the second half. Impressively, 15 different Bison tallied a point in the decisive victory, while the team as a whole registered 16 assists on 29 shots. Andrew Somers ’14 and Andrew Roberts ’16 led the way for the Orange and Blue with four points each.
In the team’s third game of the weekend, the Orange and Blue won a nail-biter against No. 14 Navy 13-11. The Bison jumped out to an early lead, thanks in part to a first quarter in which the Orange and Blue outscored the Midshipmen 5-3. In response, Navy held the Bison scoreless in the second while tallying three goals of their own. At the half, the score was 6-5 in favor of the Midshipmen. The Orange and Blue answered in the third, retaking the lead 10-9 by outscoring Navy 5-3. Despite Navy’s best efforts, the Bison proved to be too much to handle in the fourth, scoring three goals to the Midshipmen’s two. Yet again, the most notable Bison performance came from Barron. In the highly contested affair, Barron found the back of the net six times, tallied three assists and won two sprints. Napleton was also strong for the Orange and Blue in the net. In 32 minutes of play, Napleton recorded 14 saves. Else also earned six ejections drawn.
Riding a wave of momentum, the Bison defeated Mercyhurst 9-4 in the championship game. The Orange and Blue jumped out of the gates in the first quarter, scoring three goals without allowing a single Mercyhurst goal. Although the Lakers cut the lead to two by the intermission, the winner of the contest was never in question. In the second half. the Bison outscored the Lakers 5-2. In doing so, the Orange and Blue captured their first Southern Championships Title. For the third time in four games, Barron led the charge with seven points coming from two goals and five assists. Aleksic and Julian Colina ’14 also had multi-goal performances with two goals apiece. In between the pipes, Napleton recorded 14 saves and one steal.
The Orange and Blue will conclude their season this weekend when they compete in the Eastern Championship in Princeton, N.J. The first opponent the Bison are slated to play is Harvard, a squad the Orange and Blue defeated twice during the season. The action will begin Nov. 16.