The men's water polo team faced stiff competition at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton Invitationals, and after a number of close matches, Bruno's record stands at 2-4. Despite the results, Brown currently sits just outside the NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings, having received four votes in last week's poll.
The Bears went 1-1 at the MIT Invitational Sept. 3, dropping a tight matchup to No. 18 California Baptist University (3-2) 10-6 before rebounding with a 9-5 triumph over host MIT (1-6).
"It's always interesting to play a ranked opponent as your first game," said Head Coach Felix Mercado. "Obviously, we wanted to win the game, but we had other things that needed our attention, as far as seeing how well we played together."
The game was tight throughout, and the team saw stellar performances from a pair of sophomores. James McNamara '14 — who was named Northern Division player of the week — led the way with two goals and five steals, while Walker Shockley '14 made eight saves in net.
"I thought we were solid," Mercado said.
"Ultimately, it came down to a couple mistakes we made offensively that Cal Baptist capitalized on," he said. "After watching the game film, all of our mistakes are very fixable."
Against MIT, Bruno built a 6-2 lead by the half. Despite some late noise by the Engineers, it was not enough to catch the Bears. Svetozar Stefanovic '13 and Cyrus Mojdehi '12, both of whom recorded hat tricks, led the attack.
"In the last four years, all but one of our games against MIT has been decided by one goal," Mercado said. "To give up only three goals throughout the first three quarters was pretty impressive, so I was happy with our defense."
"All in all, I think we did okay," Shockley said. "We have to brush up on things a little bit, but once we get everything sorted out, we have a really talented team."
The Bears then traveled to Princeton, N.J., for the Princeton Invitational. Bruno went 1-3 on the weekend, dropping games to No. 19 St. Francis College 11-7 in double overtime, No. 14 Santa Clara University 6-5 and No. 17 Princeton 11-6. The one victory came in the weekend's final game, an 8-6 win over George Washington University.
Against St. Francis (3-4), the Bears led by a goal in the final quarter, but conceded a late tying goal in regulation. In the two overtime periods, St. Francis scored an additional five times to Bruno's one to pull away.
The Bears hung with Santa Clara (4-3) all game, but could not find the equalizer they had given up against St. Francis and lost by a goal. In the Princeton game (5-0), the Tigers' attack exploded in the second half, scoring five goals to Brown's one to expand a one-goal lead at halftime into an 11-6 win.
But Brown finally found its victory against George Washington (3-5) behind a strong defensive performance highlighted by Shockley's six saves in net.
Despite the final scores, the squad is looking toward a productive season. Mercado said that the team has to step up and replace the offensive production of last year's seniors, who were key to Bruno's attack.
"We're definitely in a position where we need to figure out where the offense is coming from," Mercado said.
He also stressed team chemistry, a sentiment reiterated by his top goalkeeper, Shockley.
"We have a very cohesive group here, so I think we'll come together as a team," Shockley said.
The season is young, and the Bears still have high hopes for 2011, but they stressed not looking too far ahead.
"Before we start thinking about championships or beating this team or that team, I think we need to kind of take care of ourselves," Mercado said. "We need to get on the same page defensively, and offensively, we need to spread the wealth around a little more where we're a little less predictable, so it's hard for teams to stop us."
"Our goal is to win an Eastern Championship, but there's an Ivy League Championship and a California tournament in October that we want to do well in, " Shockley said. "We just want to win."