October 23, 2006

Engineers Finish Second at Div. III Eastern Championship

Oct. 23, 2006

ERIE, Pa. - MIT put on an impressive performance at the Division III Eastern Championship this past weekend in Erie, Pa., reaching the final before ultimately falling to Johns Hopkins, 9-6. The title game marked the eighth straight time that the Engineers and the Blue Jays had met in the tournament's final, with Tech taking the 2000 and 2003 crowns.

MIT defeated Washington and Jefferson, 7-6, in its quarterfinal match, before downing Penn State Behrend, 13-7, in the semifinal.

The Cardinal and Gray had to endure a tense encounter to open its weekend, as Washington and Jefferson secured a 3-2 halftime lead in the quarterfinal. However, a second half fight-back saw the Engineers go on a 4-1 run, taking a lead which they would not surrender. Freshmen Mark Artz and Rob Kalwarowsky each tallied twice in the match for MIT, while Morgan Laidlaw, Devin Lewis and Kevin Amendt all pitched in with a goal apiece in the 7-6 victory.

With the win, Tech advanced to the semifinal against Penn State Behrend. The Engineers were once again slow starters, trailing 4-3 at the end of the first period, but showed their resolve for a second straight game with a rousing comeback. Four unanswered goals in the fourth period salted the game away, as MIT emerged victorious, 13-7. Amendt and Lewis each recorded three goals while David Dryjanksi and Laidlaw each tallied two of their own. Artz, Kalwarowsky and Mike Smith Bronstein all added one each.

The victory set up MIT's eighth straight encounter with Johns Hopkins in the championship game, and the two squads renewed rivalry would not disappoint.

It was the Engineers who started strong, taking a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period, before Hopkins battled back to take a 5-4 halftime lead.

The Blue Jays distanced themselves with the first two goals of the second half, and would ultimately hold off Tech for the 9-6 victory and the Div. III Eastern Championship crown.

MIT showed a balanced attack in the final, receiving goals from six different players. Amendt, Kalwarowsky, Laidlaw, Lewis, Smith Bronstein and Palmer Rosemond all contributed with a goal.

"We came to compete and we did," stated Amendt. "I think defensively we are playing great and I'm sure that by next week at Northerns we will be ready to roll," he added.

Head coach Felix Mercado was pleased with his team's performance over the course of the weekend. "These guys played great all three games," he said. "In the championship game we gave Hopkins more than what they expected. We have four practices left before our conference tournament and we are looking to advance to Easterns," he added.

The Cardinal and Gray utilized two goalkeepers over the course of the weekend, with freshman Nick Souza making 11 saves in the starting role. Rob Truax added nine stops.

At the conclusion of the tournament, it was announced that Amendt had been named Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) First Team All-Division III, while teammates Lewis and Laidlaw were named to the Second Team.

Meanwhile, head coach Mercado was honored as the Division III CWPA Coach of the Year.

The Engineers head into next weekend's Northern Division Championship with confidence. Tech won't have to leave Cambridge for the tournament, as it's being hosted by Harvard University on Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.