Coming into the event as the reigning champion, the men’s water polo team claimed second place at the Southern Championships this past weekend in Annapolis, Md. Holding a three-goal lead in the finals at the half, the Orange and Blue were outscored by five goals in the third quarter against Navy and eventually fell to the Midshipmen 9-8.
“Overall, I think we played well as a team,” Stefan Aleksic ’16 said. “The fact that we were in the finals the second year in a row is showing us that we are moving in the right direction.”
Prior to the final contest, the Bison claimed victories over Washington & Jefferson and Mercyhurst in the first and second rounds, respectively.
In the first game, the Bison jumped out to a sizeable 7-3 lead at the half and did not let up from there, as the team would go on to win 12-5. Aleksic scored three goals in the contest and was joined by Julian Colina ’14 and Alex Nowlin ’14, who each tallied two of their own.
Later on in the day, the Bison faced a tougher opponent, as Mercyhurst came out of the gates firing. Down by three at the half, the Orange and Blue were able to take control in the second half and escape with an 8-6 victory. Aleksic added four more goals in the contest.
“We had three hard games this weekend and two of them were pretty close. But I think we showed the strength and mentality of this team in the semi-final game against Mercyhurst,” Aleksic said. “We had an amazing comeback in the second half, not allowing them to score more than one goal, which enabled us to win that game.”
In the finals, the Bison started the contest strong, scoring six goals in the first half to Navy’s three. From there, the team could not manage to find the back of the net until 12 minutes into the half. Heading into the fourth and down two goals, the Bison rallied back with two goals from Jack Else ’14 and Aleksic to tie the game at eight apiece. Then, with just under five minutes remaining, the Midshipmen found the back of the net to take the match.
“I think this tournament was a great indicator on what we have been doing good so far and what we still have to work on to improve ourselves,” Aleksic said. “Our biggest problem was staying consist in the way we play. We would play really well for a certain time, but then we would get out of our rhythm and allow our opponents easy goals. I think we outplayed Navy for three quarters, but that one quarter where we did not play well cost us a win in finals.”
In taking second, the Bison were still able to earn a bid
in the CWPA Championship, which takes place on Nov. 22-24. The bid marks the 14th consecutive trip for the Bison, who hope to earn an NCAA Championship berth by winning the event.