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M. water polo wins, gears up for California trip

It was a little too close for comfort, but the No. 20 men's water polo team (14-4) escaped from Harvard's Blodgett Pool with a 12-9 win over the Crimson (8-13) last Thursday.

Bruno jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, but the game tightened up after Brown was unable to score in quarter two.

"I was pleased with the way we started the game," said Head Coach Felix Mercado. "But obviously the last three quarters on the scoreboard, Harvard outplayed us."

Despite the rocky finish, Mercado said he was pleased with the game's outcome.

"I'm happy we were able to get out of there with a victory and a top-two seed at (the Northern Championships), which was probably the most important thing," he said.

Mercado praised the offense of Svetozar Stefanovic '13, who scored five goals, as well as Corey Schwartz '11 and James McNamara '14, who netted three apiece. Cyrus Mojdehi '12 added Brown's other goal. Mercado said these offensive performances "definitely propelled us to the win."

"We did a little worse in the last quarters," Stefanovic said. "But it doesn't matter because we won."

Goalie Max Lubin '12 was  able to preserve the Bears' lead, recording nine saves in net.  

Brown now prepares for what will be its toughest test of the season: a West Coast trip against some of the nation's best teams. On Thursday, the Bears will head to the three-day Santa Clara University Invitational in Santa Clara, Calif.  

Bruno will face No. 14 California Baptist University (22-3), No. 11 University of California at Davis (12-6), Air Force (7-11), No. 11 Santa Clara University (13-9) and No. 7 University of the Pacific (10-5). UC-Davis and Santa Clara are tied in the rankings.

Even with the daunting schedule ahead, Mercado said he is confident in his team, and the win against Harvard reminded his squad of an important lesson.

"It let us know that we need to play four quarters," Mercado said. "I think the last three days of practice that we've had have been very focused. The guys have worked hard."

Stefanovic said he was not intimidated by the higher rankings of Bruno's upcoming opponents, saying that they are "not much better than us."  

"If we work hard in every game and we give our best, we can beat every one of those teams," he said.

Mercado agreed, saying the team will be in good shape as long as it avoids bouts of sloppy play and turnovers.

"That has been the biggest Achilles' heel: our turnovers," he said. "If we protect the ball and we take advantage of every offensive possession, it doesn't matter who we're playing. We're going to be in the game."


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