In the past week the men's water polo team beat the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 6-5, and Fordham, 11-9, then fell to St. Francis by a score of 12-5. Despite the loss, the team is improving, and its "chemistry" is strengthening with each game, said Head Coach Felix Mercado.
The MIT game last Thursday ended in a narrow victory for the Bears. The team began with a 2-1 lead in the first quarter, and both teams scored in the second quarter, bringing the halftime score to 3-2. MIT evened the score in the third quarter, but Brown came back in the fourth quarter to end the game with a 6-5 win. While the offense lacked, with 15 missed shots, the defense saved the game, specifically due to Kent Holland's '10 skills in the goal.
"Holland has been fantastic as a goalie and made up for lack of chemistry on the offensive end," Mercado said.
Mercado attributes the offensive struggle to the overall youth and inexperience of the team, adding that they still need to find their groove. Other leading players in the MIT game were Michael Hartwick '13 with three steals and two field blocks, Zach Levko '10 and Svetozar Stefanovic '13, who Mercado calls "Freshman Phenom," both with two goals each. The Collegiate Water Polo Association recently named Stefanovic Northern Division Player of the Week. He is also the first player in league history to earn honors for four consecutive weeks.
Three days after their victory, the team faced the Fordham Rams and the St. Francis Terriers in New York. They triumphed over the Rams in the first game with an 11-9 victory. Holland continued to shine in the goal with 15 saves, and the offense picked up.
"For the first time in my years here, I think our depth is deeper than we have ever been, and that has help us maintain consistency throughout the four quarters," Mercado said.
The second game ended in a 12-5 loss. Shortly after the game started, St. Francis led the game 4-0, and were up 8-2 by the half. While the Bears scored three more goals in the second half, the Terriers still came out on top. Ryan Gladych '13 led the team offensively with two goals, while Stefanovic, Cyrus Mojdehi '13 and Brandon Yoshimura '11 each scored one. Despite the outcome, the team put up a strong fight, but St. Francis was stronger in the end, Mercado said.
"The silver lining of this cloud is that for the first time offensively, we were getting scoring opportunities," he said. Mercado has observed strong morale in the team, saying that they are "cohesive in and out of the water" thanks to the leadership shown by Holland and Levko, which will undoubtedly improve their ability at game time.
The Bears travel to Cambridge to face Harvard on Saturday, Oct. 10. Mercado said it is important for the team to focus more on the season as a whole rather than on the age-old Harvard-Brown rivalry. The team is trying to view Harvard as "just another opponent to beat," he said.