The men’s water polo team faced off against some of the country’s strongest competitors this weekend at the Princeton Invitational, finishing 1-2 overall in competition.
Bruno competed against No. 17 Cal Baptist and No. 10 UC San Diego on Friday, first defeating Cal 10-8 before falling to San Diego 12-11 in overtime.
Saturday, Bruno wilted against No. 1 UCLA, losing 17-2. Still, the team left the tournament in high spirits over the quality of its play against three of the top 20 teams in the country.
“At this point in the season, before league play has begun, the most important thing is how hard we played this weekend,” said Yahel Murvitz-Lahav ’17.
Bruno’s effort paid off in its opening match against Cal Baptist. The team got off to a hot start, grabbing an early 3-0 lead behind a pair of goals from Luke Irwin ’17 within the first minute of play. Cal would tie the score at three early in the second quarter, but Irwin scored once more to give Brown a lead it would not give up for the rest of the match, holding on to win 10-8.
“After starting 3-0, we never let them really get back into it and kept up the pressure,” Murvitz-Lahav said. “It was a big win for us against a really strong California team.”
The team faced its second ranked opponent from California later in the day, when it fell to UC San Diego in a tightly contested 12-11 overtime match. After trading goals for much of the match, Brown fell behind 8-5 at the start of the fourth quarter. Tyler Kirchberg ’18 scored two goals in quick succession to pull Brown within one, while two more goals from Rico Burke ’18 and Irwin, as well as nifty work in front of net from goalkeeper Luke Weiser ’18, left the teams tied at the end of regulation.
After grabbing an 11-10 lead, Brown conceded two penalty shots to San Diego, resulting in a heartbreaking loss.
“It came down to two penalty shots,” said Murvitz-Lahav. “The other team gets that one goal difference that decides the game. I think this is a team that on any given day we can beat, and it’s motivation for continuing to play at a high level.”
Saturday, Bruno faced a powerhouse in reigning national champion UCLA. Irwin and Kirchberg tallied the team’s only two goals in its 17-2 defeat. While the team struggled to find its rhythm against UCLA, Bruno did not have its full complement of players.
“We were playing with a lot of injuries,” said Murvitz-Lahav. “Two of our starters couldn’t play, and we were missing three more sophomores as well.”
Bruno looks to rebound next weekend with a four-game slate at the Bucknell Invitational.