Bruno goes winless in West Coast matchups

Sports Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It wasn’t exactly a dream vacation. The No. 20 men’s water polo team (14-9) dropped all five of its games at the Santa Clara Rodeo Invitational last weekend.

Bruno lost to No. 15 California Baptist University (24-5) 9-3, No. 11 University of California at Davis (15-7) 9-6, Air Force (9-13) 11-10, No. 13 Santa Clara University (17-9) 16-9, and No. 7 University of the Pacific (12-6) 16-9.

Despite the five losses and the lingering jet lag, Head Coach Felix Mercado saw the trip as a learning experience for his squad, and said his team was competitive in every game.

“We didn’t go out there to go undefeated, we went out there with no pressure, just trying to get better,” Mercado said. “There’s no question that we are a better team because of the trip, regardless of going 0-5.”

The Brown coach was hesitant to point out individual performances, but noted that the team as a whole “saw how good we can be.”  

“There’s 12 guys that saw playing time out there, and every one of them contributed,” Mercado said. “I saw a lot of good things from a lot of people.”

With just under six weeks left in the season, the pressure on the Bears is not letting up. Mercado’s squad will face the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (11-7) on Thursday for Senior Night, held at Wheaton College. Following the MIT game, the Bears will compete in the Ivy League Championships, held at Princeton this weekend.  

Mercado was cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances in the tournament. He expects to face Harvard (8-15) in the semifinals. If Brown can win its first round game, No. 18 Princeton (13-8), seeded first in the Ivy League, looms as a likely finals opponent.

“Princeton’s going to be the team to beat,” Mercado said.

He believes his team can handle anyone in the Ivy League, but knows that they have to avoid careless errors to play with some of the best teams in college water polo.

 “We’re going to have to play solid defense and protect the ball,” Mercado said. “There’s eight to ten teams that all have the same vision and can all make it. The reality is, it’s a gauntlet.”

Even with the challenges ahead, Mercado is sure that the Bears are capable of victory.

“We’re going to show up to Princeton looking to win a championship,” Mercado said. “That’s why we do this.”

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