The men's water polo team still has plenty more games to play, but it is confident following two wins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Invitational on Saturday. Led by Svetozar Stefanovic '13, who returns after a standout freshman year, the Bears (2-0) handed Cal Lutheran (0-4) an 11-6 defeat and beat the Boston Metro Elite club team 11-7.
Head Coach Felix Mercado said he was pleased to begin the season undefeated, but the team is "nowhere near where we need to be."
Mercado said the team's conditioning is its major weakness thus far. "Some of the guys are not in 100 percent shape," Mercado said. He said his expectations were not too high for the first games of the year, but he was pleased that the team was "tactically solid."
Stefanovic, in an e-mail to The Herald, echoed the feelings of his coach, noting that the team "played well" but is "not in shape yet." Stefanovic scored six goals at the MIT tournament but was still not completely satisfied with the results, writing that Bruno "should have won by more goals."
The Bears come away from MIT with a vital momentum that will play a role in the difficult remaining schedule, Mercado said.
"Week in and week out, we are going to be playing tough competition," he said. "Our conference is as deep as it has ever been."
The coach mentioned the "usual suspects" as contenders in the Collegiate Water Polo Association East Region: Princeton, Navy and Johns Hopkins. But the looming giant may be St. Francis College, ranked No. 1 in the CWPA Northern Division, whom the Bears will face on Sept. 25.
If Brown defeats St. Francis and other premier squads, it will have to be with the help of underclassmen. Over half of Mercado's players are freshmen or sophomores.
But Mercado said youth was a bigger obstacle last year, as the sophomores have now played a full season together. And the upperclassmen on the team are "setting a good example" for the newest members, Mercado said.
Stefanovic wrote that he is pleased with his freshman teammates thus far.
"At MIT they showed that they have great potential and that they are an important part of the team," he wrote.
Both Stefanovic and Mercado cited the promise of James McNamara '14, a member of the USA Junior Olympic team. Mercado said he expects McNamara and other freshmen to "make an impact."
The Bears continue on to the Bucknell Invitational, which begins Friday evening. They will face Diablo Valley College, the University of Toronto, Bucknell, Penn State at Behrend and Navy in a jam-packed weekend.