The men’s water polo team (7-4) fell 20-5 to No. 9 Pepperdine University (4-6) on Sunday morning to wrap up their three-game California road trip. Despite the blowout loss, the Bears returned to Providence having won four out of their last five games, including beating their two previous opponents in the Golden State.
Bruno defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (3-7) and Whittier College (3-7) Saturday by scores of 14-8 and 20-10, respectively.
“It’s tough to pinpoint success after this loss” to Pepperdine, wrote Head Coach Felix Mercado in a message to The Herald. “But honestly as we continue to practice and get to know each other better, we tend to play better.”
Daniel Hadar ’26, Anderson Todd ’25 and Leo Berkman ’23 made strong contributions in Bruno’s defeat of Whittier, each contributing three goals, while goalkeeper Simeon Dong ’25 recorded 10 saves.
Gabe Chang ’25 and Ilias Stothart ’26 also played significant roles over the weekend on offense, each scoring six goals over the three games.
Chang’s efforts included an impressive four-goal performance in Saturday’s victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Goalkeeper Kole Newman ’26 shined as well, charting ten saves in that game.
For first-years Stothart and Newman, contributing to the team’s success was nothing new. Stothart currently sits atop the Bears’ scoring leaderboard with 18 goals, while Newman leads the team with 44 blocks.
“Both are talented young men with tremendous work ethic,” Mercado wrote. “They have blended right into what we are trying to do as a team and will only get better with practice and building chemistry.”
“We’ve won these recent games because we’ve shown up ready to work and ready to play,” Newman wrote in a message to The Herald. “Everyone who gets in the pool wants to be there and wants to win with their team. As an East Coast team playing some larger programs from the West, I think our effort is the most important thing we bring to every game and is definitely what’s carried us through those victories.”
The Bears competed in three games in just over 24 hours, a typically packed schedule for the team. They opened their season with the Bruno Classic tournament, a stretch in which they played six home games in three days. But the recent road trip posed the added challenge of demanding cross-country travel alongside a tight schedule.
“The travel definitely had an impact,” Newman wrote. “A six-hour flight makes it difficult to be ready the following day, but we did some team mobility work the day we arrived and made sure to rest up and be ready for our games.”
“Fortunately, our coaches prepared us well with the Bruno Classic, where we played six games in a similar time frame as well as in our practices,” Newman continued.
Mercado also stressed the importance of “mental toughness” during such a trip: “Keeping our minds focused on what we are trying to accomplish in these games, knowing we turn around so quickly to be back on College Hill” is a challenge, he wrote.
The Bears will look to bounce back on the road against Princeton and St. Francis College Oct. 1.
That longer stretch without any matches is good news for Mercado: “It’s nice to know we have 10 days to correct some of the setbacks we had against Pepperdine,” he wrote.