Nov. 13, 2006
PRINCETON, N.J. - MIT's men's water polo team concluded its 2006 campaign this past weekend, finishing in eighth place at the Eastern Championship in Princeton, N.J. The Engineers faced stiff Division I competition, falling to the United States Naval Academy, Brown and Harvard.
Tech finishes the season with an overall ledger of 11-20.
The young squad entered Saturday morning's match against highly touted Navy confident and ready to deliver a huge upset, and for a brief period, appeared primed to do so. Sophomore Mike Smith Bronstein got the Engineers on the board first at the 6:06 mark, giving them a 1-0 lead. Navy responded quickly to knot the game at 1-1, but Rob Kalwarowsky restored Tech's lead under 30 seconds later. However, Navy pulled two goals back before the end of the quarter, taking a 3-2 advantage into the first break.
The Midshipmen used several counterattack opportunities in the second quarter to widen the gap, outscoring MIT by a score of 7-0 to take a 10-2 lead into halftime. The deficit would prove too much for the Cardinal and Gray to overcome, as it ultimately fell, 13-7.
"We had a strong first quarter but they are a lot deeper than we are and had fresh legs to energize their fast breaks," said head coach Felix Mercado. "On four of those counterattack goals we had great looks at the cage - we just missed the shot and it was off to the races. I am proud of our guys for not giving up and playing a solid second half," he added.
The Engineers had little time to dwell on their loss, as they took on Brown later that day. The fatigued MIT squad never managed to get the offense rolling, ultimately falling, 11-3. However, Smith Bronstein delivered a bright spot for the squad as his two goals pushed him to the 40 goal barrier for the season. He joined freshman teammate Devin Lewis in reaching that mark for the campaign. Lewis tallied Tech's other goal in the match, pushing him to 43 on the year.
MIT's final match of the season fittingly came against Cambridge rival Harvard in the seventh place game. Phil Cassel opened the scoring for the Engineers, but the Crimson's balanced attack was too much as Harvard pulled out a 7-3 victory. Lewis tallied Tech's final two goals to push his ultimate season total to 45.
Freshman keeper Nick Souza made 15 saves over the course of the weekend, while junior Rob Truax tallied one stop. Souza's 220 saves this season is the third highest single season total in MIT water polo history.
Despite the three losses, there were certainly signs of success over the course of the weekend for the youthful Engineers' squad. Amendt and Smith Bronstein were both named to the Collegiate Water Polo Association All-Northern Division Second Team, while Mercado was named Northern Division Coach of the Year.