The men's water polo team returned from Santa Clara, Calif., this weekend with a losing record after the Rodeo Invitational. But despite going 2-3 on the weekend, the team flew back with a positive attitude.
"It was great to play some of the best players in the country," said Cyrus Mojdehi '12. "It serves as great preparation going into our postseason push and Ivy League tournament."
"As a team, we worked together and continue to grow closer," said captain Toby Espinosa '12.
The squad lost 18-5 to No. 3 Stanford, 9-4 to No. 18 California Baptist University and 11-2 to No. 12 University of California at Davis. But Bruno registered victories against ranked opponents No. 18 Air Force 12-10 and No. 15 Santa Clara 10-4.
"We really meshed as a team with two big wins over Santa Clara and Air Force," wrote James McNamara '14 in an email to The Herald. "Those wins and our subsequent losses to California Baptist, Stanford and UC Davis were crucial team building games."
For their first match, the Bears faced Santa Clara the same day their flight landed. They got off to a strong start with a 3-0 first quarter and went into the half with a 6-2 lead. Bruno built on the lead and added three more goals in the third. In the final quarter, Brown conceded two goals to the Broncos while adding one more to give them a 10-4 win.
"Beating No. 15 Santa Clara in front of their home crowd under the lights Friday night was the highlight of the weekend," Mojdehi said.
In the next game, Brown took on Cal Baptist and was able to keep the game close with a score of 5-4 at the half. But the Bears were not able to penetrate the Lancers' defense and were shut out in the second half for a 9-4 loss.
Center Svetozar Stefanovic '13 spearheaded the attack with two goals, and McNamara tallied six steals to lead the team defensively.
The Bears responded strongly in their next game against Air Force and came up with a 12-10 victory. After the first quarter ended with the teams knotted at three, Brown inched ahead in the middle quarters and protected its two-goal lead in the fourth quarter.
McNamara was stellar that night, finishing with four goals, six steals and two assists.
On the final day of the invitational, the Bears faced highly ranked Stanford and UC Davis.
The Bears were unable to keep up with the Cardinals, falling behind 9-1 by halftime. The Bears attempted to mount a comeback by tying the third quarter 3-3, but they were unable to keep up the momentum and were outscored 5-1 in the final quarter for a 18-5 loss.
Stefanovic tried to keep the team afloat by scoring three goals, while goalkeeper Walker Shockley '14 tallied 10 saves.
For the final game, Brown failed to penetrate UC Davis' defense after the second quarter. The team was able to keep close, down only 4-2 after the first half, but fell apart in the second half and ended up losing 11-2.
First-years Nick Deaver '15 and Henry Fox '15 scored the squad's two lone goals.
After a tough weekend playing against ranked teams, Espinosa said the team is looking forward to further developing its game.
"There are truly special moments in the pool when everything just clicks," Espinosa said. "Our goal is to make the frequency of these moments increase. I am incredibly proud of the team at this point in the season, but we still have work to do."
The team now looks ahead to the final stages of its schedule, including the Ivy League, Northern and Eastern championships.
"We fought hard and are ready to take down the East Coast," McNamara wrote.