The no. 14 men’s water polo team found its form at this weekend’s Bucknell Invitational, going 3-1 in competition.
Bruno opened the weekend with two Saturday matches, defeating Navy and Wagner. The team rode its momentum into Sunday, battling No. 15 Bucknell to a close loss before rebounding against Mercyhurst with a 16-3 win.
The team left the invitational feeling confident. “Overall, it was a really positive weekend,” said Jack Wilson ’20. “Our defense is really coming together.”
Brown allowed only 28 goals through four games at the Bucknell Invitational, after conceding 37 goals in only three games the prior weekend at the Princeton Invitational.
The Bears opened the weekend with a strong performance against unranked Navy, opening up a 4-0 lead shortly into the match. Attacker Yahel Murvitz-Lahav ’17 led Brown’s charge, his three early goals helping to widen the lead to 10-2 at the end of half. Brown would coast to a 16-8 victory, with Jake Wyatt ’17, Rico Burke ’18, Tyler Kirchberg ’18 and Warren Smith ’17 each contributing two goals in the winning effort.
Bruno then faced another unranked opponent in Wagner, whom it had already defeated earlier in the season at the Bruno Classic.
“Navy and Wagner were definitely games we’re supposed to win,” Wilson said. “But after a really strong game against Navy we came out a little flat against Wagner. We didn’t overlook Wagner, but we learned our lesson not to play down to our opponent.”
While the team came away with a 10-8 victory, it allowed Wagner to stay in the game, only grabbing its first lead with 4:22 left in the third quarter. But Brown’s improved defense provided the dominating narrative of the weekend, and the game against Wagner was no exception. Bruno’s backline locked down in the second half, only conceding three goals while Kirchberg and Smith led the team’s six-goal comeback effort on offense in the second half.
Brown faced its toughest competition Sunday, playing tournament host and No. 15 Bucknell. Despite jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, the Bears ultimately fell to the hosts 9-8, as they were outscored 4-2 in the second half and conceded the game-winning goal with just 2:31 remaining.
The loss to Bucknell represented a particularly biting defeat for Bruno, which has struggled in recent games against ranked competition.
“Ultimately the game got away from us,” Wilson said. “But we learned a lot, and it exposed things we need to work on in practice.”
Bruno got its revenge in its final match of the weekend against Mercyhurst, trouncing its opponent on the way to a 16-3 victory. Brown made its mark early in the match, grabbing 5-1 and 9-2 leads at the end of the first quarter and half, respectively. The team displayed great all-around form, conceding only three goals while getting multiple-goal efforts from five players.
With only one non-league match left against Connecticut College, the team begins its preparation for Ivy League competition. “Our coach purposely scheduled tough games for us during ‘preseason,’ and I think we battled in each of them,” Wilson said. “Having seen the whole spectrum of talent thus far, we’re all really confident heading into the season.”
Bruno begins its Ivy League season against Princeton Oct. 1.