Men’s water polo finishes third at CWPA Northern Championships

James McNamara ’14 scored the winning goal in a late-game thriller against MIT

Sports Staff Writer
Monday, November 11, 2013

James McNamara ’14 scored the game-winner in the third-place game at the CWPA Northern Division Championships. Bruno heads into the CWPA Eastern Championships in pursuit of an NCAA Championships berth.

The No. 15 Bears traveled to Harvard to participate in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Northern Division Championships over the weekend and finished 2-1 in their weekend series, earning a bid to the CWPA Eastern Championships taking place on College Hill Nov. 22-24.

The team competed against the Fordham University Rams, the St. Francis College Terriers and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineers.

In the weekend’s first game, the Bears faced off against the Rams. Bruno got off to an early lead, moving into the half with a 6-3 advantage. Nick Deaver ’15 led the team with three goals, while Walker Shockley ’14 contributed eight saves in his time between the bars.

The Bears played a strong defensive game, holding the Rams scoreless in the third quarter and allowing only two goals in the fourth frame, en route to a 9-5 victory.

The day’s second game featured the fourth meeting of the year against the second-seeded Terriers. The season series going into this match was 3-0 in favor of the Terriers, but all previous matches had been decided by two goals or fewer.

The nightcap started off with a strong offensive showing in the first half by the Terriers, outscoring the Bears by four goals. St. Francis maintained a 7-3 lead going into the third quarter.

Warren Smith ’17 scored his sole goal of the match in the third frame, keeping the Bears within reach. In the fourth quarter, James McNamara ’14 and Henry Fox ’15 scored a pair of back-to-back goals to shorten the deficit to 9-7 with 1 minute 25 seconds left in regulation. But the Terriers scored another goal to reach double digits and close the door on a possible comeback by the Bruno squad, ending the game with a 10-7 Terriers victory.

“We came out slow at first,” Deaver said. “They counterattacked well, and we became impatient.”

“The game served as a good lesson that we have to come ready to play each and every game,” he added.

Bruno closed the tournament the next day with a late-game thriller in the CWPA Northern Championships third-place game against the MIT Engineers.

Fox scored twice in the first frame, helping the Bears jump out to a 3-1 lead going into the second quarter. But MIT responded back in the second quarter, putting up two goals while limiting Bruno to just one goal.

The Bears entered the second half with a 4-3 lead. The Engineers started the half strong, scoring four goals in the third frame and tying the match at seven.

Bruno started off the fourth quarter with pair of goals by Deaver and Fox, taking a 9-7 lead. The Engineers answered back with two goals of their own, evening the score at nine with just 1:49 left in the game. But McNamara scored the game-winning goal with 1:20 left in regulation to lead the Bears to a 10-9 victory and a third-place tournament finish.

“We came together as a team and trusted each other,” Deaver said. “We knew this game would have a huge impact on Eastern Champs seeding. We couldn’t lose the game.”

“A game like this shows us that we have to play 32 minutes,” said Head Coach Felix Mercado. “We could never take our foot off the gas.”

Bruno returns to action Nov. 22-24 at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center, when the Bears will host the CWPA Eastern Championships and compete as the fifth seed.

“We will be in an optimal mindset because we have the opportunity to play in our pool,” Deaver said. “This is the same pool we practice in — it will help us have an even better shot at Eastern Champs.”

“We are in a position nobody expected us to be in,” Mercado said. “I’m excited that we have this opportunity to play in front of our home crowd, and have everyone cheer us on.”

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