After going undefeated in its conference and only losing six games in its regular season, the men’s water polo team had high hopes heading into its second postseason tournament.
Brown (24-8, 12-0 CWPA) won the CWPA Northern Division Championship by defeating MIT and Harvard two weeks ago in Providence. Those results earned Bruno the top seed in the tournament, setting up a bracket with a showdown between Brown and MIT in the first game this weekend, which the Bears won convincingly.
Tyler Kirchberg ’18 scored a hat trick against the Engineers, and Bruno staved off a late charge from MIT, which outscored Brown in the fourth quarter. First-Team All North goaltender Luke Weiser ’17 made nine saves in the first three quarters, only allowing three shots to touch the back of the net. Brown took the lead all the way up to 10-5 in the fourth quarter. MIT mounted a late comeback effort, but it did not have the legs to catch up with a fiery Bruno offense.
Johns Hopkins was the Bears’ second opponent of the weekend in the semifinal. Brown again got off to a great start against the fourth seed in the tournament, outscoring the Blue Jays 3-2 in the first quarter.
But the Bears did not have another winning frame after the first quarter, and a Johns Hopkins 3-1 third quarter took the lead from Brown. Jake Wyatt ’17 scored a hat trick, with his last goal coming in the fourth quarter to tie the game at six apiece.
The Bears and the Blue Jays went back and forth after that, as Yahel Murvitz Lahav ’17 followed up a Johns Hopkins goal to tie the game at seven in the later stages. Unfortunately for Bruno, the backbreaker came with 44 seconds remaining in regulation when Johns Hopkins took an 8-7 lead for good.
“Johns Hopkins had a bit of a fire that we weren’t prepared for, and at the end of the day, we just gave them a few too many good opportunities to score,” Weiser said.
Heading out in the semifinal of the tournament was not what the Bears had hoped for, especially against a team like Johns Hopkins that Brown had beaten 15-7 earlier in the year. The third place game was a debacle for the Bears, as Harvard took them down, 14-9.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Weiser remained confident in what he and his teammates had shown over the course of the season.
“We have a very talented team full of players with a lot of raw talent,” Weiser said. “Despite the results of the tournament, I feel that a lot of our younger players really stepped up, and I’m excited to see how they develop throughout the offseason.”
Brown ended its fall season with an impressive 24-8 record, falling just short of reaching the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.