M. water polo hopes to grow from tough losses at invite

Contributing Writer
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heading into the Bucknell University Invitational, the men’s water polo team (5-2) knew challenging teams were waiting for them. The tough tests of the weekend were games against No. 16 Navy (11-1) and No. 20 Bucknell (7-2).

And tough they were. Bruno fell 13-9 to Bucknell and 8-7 to Navy in a weekend of mixed results. The Bears were able to defeat Diablo Valley College  9-3, the University of Toronto (0-4) 13-8 and Penn State at Behrend (1-7) 16-2.  

“We really had two big games, and we lost both of them,” said Head Coach Felix Mercado.

Mercado said he was disappointed with how Bruno started off its games against Bucknell and Navy, but said that he saw “a lot of great things that we can build on.”

The Bears played the second half of the game against Bucknell without offensive leaders James McNamara ’14 and Svetozar Stefanovic ’13, both of whom were ejected during the second quarter.

In light of being shorthanded, Mercado praised the depth of the team.

“We actually rose to the occasion and played better in the second half,” Mercado said. “In the past we might not have been able to respond well. We are a more complete team now.”

Co-captain Gordon Hood ’11 led the offense against Bucknell, scoring four goals, while Walker Shockley ’14 made eight saves in his 32 minutes in net. Even with these efforts, the team was unable to overcome Bucknell’s 5-0 lead early in the game.

Despite the losses, Mercado did find silver lining in the tournament, saying that “we found out a lot about ourselves.” He said the invitational revealed the team’s “areas that need improvement.”

Bruno will have to address these issues quickly, as the schedule does not get easier. Mercado’s squad will head to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships at Harvard tomorrow.

“We are going against the top teams on the East Coast,” he said of this weekend’s matchups.

And the following weekend, the Bears will clash with the Collegiate Water Polo Association North’s top-ranked St. Francis College (7-0) at a tournament held by Connecticut College.  

As Mercado tells his team about the tough upcoming schedule: “Here comes the gauntlet.”