Oct. 5, 2007
CLAREMONT, Calif. - MIT's fifth-ranked water polo team opened its six-game California road trip with a split against a pair of Top-10 opponents, as the Engineers fell to No. 3 University of Redlands, 14-4, before bouncing back to down No. 10 Whittier College, 11-3. Thursday night's match against Redlands was played as a stand-alone contest, while Friday morning's meeting with Whittier served as the opener of the Claremont Convergence tournament.
The Engineers, who have been ranked fifth nationally in Division III for the past three weeks, moved to 8-5 with the split, though three of their losses have come at the hands of Division I opponents. The Bulldogs improved to 6-7 with their victory, while the Poets dropped to 3-10.
Less than 24 hours after stepping off of a draining cross-country flight, the Cardinal and Gray came out flat against a powerful Redlands squad and paid the price. The hosts jumped out to a 4-1 first quarter lead and never looked back, ultimately earning the 14-4 victory. As has been the case all season, Tech's offensive output was powered by youth, as junior Mike Smith-Bronstein, sophomore Devin Lewis and freshmen John Preis and Spencer Williams accounted for MIT's goals.
Despite conceding 12 of the Bulldogs' tallies, sophomore goalkeeper Nick Souza was impressive between the pipes, stopping nine shots. He was relieved by fellow sophomore Hiroshi Mendoza, who made one save while allowing the final two goals.
With a good night's rest and a full day's acclimation to the time change under their belts, the Engineers came out hard against Whittier in the opener of the Claremont Convergence on Friday morning and were rewarded with a 6-1 halftime lead. The second stanza saw much of the same, as MIT coasted to an 11-3 triumph. Senior Morgan Laidlaw, Smith-Bronstein, Lewis and Preis each contributed a pair of strikes, while Rob Kalwarowsky, Matt Perkins and Williams rounded out the scoring with a goal apiece. Preis' two tallies made him the first Engineer to reach the 40-goal plateau for the season and gave him a team-leading 41.
In addition to his goal, Perkins received praise from head coach Adam Foley for his play on the defensive end. The Dallas, Texas native made three steals against the Poets.
Souza played the full 32 minutes in net, making a season-high 12 saves.
The Engineers will return to action on Friday afternoon, when they will take on Concordia (Calif.) University at 3:40 p.m., before concluding play in the Claremont Convergence on Saturday with matches against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (1:20 p.m.) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (5:20 p.m.).