The women’s water polo team defeated No. 22 Marist College at home Saturday in their final game of the season.
In heated third and fourth periods, Bruno broke a tie to defeat the Red Foxes on Senior Day after falling to them 7-4 in February on the road. Goalkeeper Lauren Burns ’20 posted her ninth double-digit save game this season, totaling 10 saves. The Bears took 23 total shots for a scoring percentage of 26.1.
The day did not open with optimism for the Bears (19-12, 2-4 ECAC), as Marist (21-15, 12-2 MAAC) took an early lead in the opening quarter and maintained it until the final two minutes of the period. Brown scored two goals in the final 76 seconds at the hands of Dagmara Czajka ’22 on a penalty followed by another goal from Lexi Atwell ’20 with Maigrie McDougal ’19 assisting to close out the period with a 2-1 lead.
The second quarter would nearly pass scoreless as the teams’ defenses routinely chested up to one another, shutting down shooting attempts and rocketing the ball between zones. Marist scored in the final 30 seconds of the stanza to tie the game at two. Center defender McKenna Miller ’19 explained that defense is the foundation of Brown’s strategy.
Head Coach Felix Mercado “always says our offense starts with our defense,” Miller said. “We really wanted to make sure that our defense was the number one thing we were focusing on for this game because that’s what we’re going to be focusing on most (in the championships) next week.”
In the third quarter, Bruno scored two goals to lift Brown’s lead to 4-2, punctuated by quality saves from Burns and a seemingly continuous stream of penalties exchanged between teams. With 3 minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the period, Carissa Perez ’21 faked out Marist’s goaltender to sink a power play shot high in the top left corner. Following a Brown timeout, Czajka claimed Brown’s second power play goal on a skip shot with Katie Klein ’22 assisting at 1:36 remaining. Marist would continue a strong showing of shooting attempts, each of which Burns located and intercepted. Under heavy pressure in the final minutes, Burns beat back a shot by the left post at 1:13 remaining and took a fast ball to the chest in the final 30 seconds to preserve Brown’s lead.
Marist opened the final period with two goals, evening the score. It was not until 2:55 remained in the final stanza that Kaitlyn Cook ’21 capitalized on a power play opportunity to score off a pass from Czajka. McDougal would draw a five-meter penalty in the final 90 seconds, creating an opportunity for Klein to secure the last goal, bringing the Bruno lead to 6-4.
Mercado told Brown Athletics that “it was great to send out our seniors with a win in their final regular season home game.”
The Bears will take on Harvard in the opener of the conference championship next weekend.
Their game against Marist will prove “very beneficial in figuring out what we need to work on before our conference championships,” Klein said. “Marist is a great team to play against in order to do so.”