A Brown player tossed the ball to his teammate in front of the attacking goal. The teammate, after catching it and wrestling with defenders, fired the ball past a lunging goalkeeper.
This sequence was a common sight during the men’s water polo (5-3) game Saturday night, in which Bruno faced off against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2-5) at Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center and won 15-10.
Often it was Matt Simko ’22.5 — who scored four goals in total — or Ilias Stothart ’26 — who added his own hat-trick — that caught the ball and finished off the play.
It was this brand of physical attack into the heart of the MIT defense that proved the chief source of Bears’ offense for the night, allowing Bruno to coast to its second win of the day.
“We have two to three really good centers,” said Head Coach Felix Mercado. “Anyone that plays that position for us, when they go in front of the cage, they do such a good job of holding position. That forces teams … to pick their poison.”
The Bears established the pattern on their first possession when Stothart received the ball in front of the net and drew a penalty amid the ensuing defensive scramble. Attacker Gabriel Chang ’25 then dispatched the penalty shot into the top right corner to give Brown a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds in.
But the Engineers responded two minutes later after center Adam Ivatorov caught a cross-net pass and tossed it into a wide-open net.
Simko got on the board with his own point-blank goal, after which MIT again equalized. The Bears then scored another penalty shot before the end of the first quarter, this time on the arm of attacker Ben Kirshon ’25, to make it a 3-2 game.
The Bears began to pull away in the second quarter, with Simko adding two goals and Stothart scoring another, while a swarming Bruno defense allowed few clean entry passes from the Engineers.
“We wanted to really work on our defense,” Mercado said. “The first three quarters, our pressure defense was perfect.”
Brown ended the first half up 7-3.
The Bruno onslaught intensified with a 5-1 surge to begin the second half, highlighted by a steal from attacker Thomas Hoffmeister ’24. He subsequently delivered a clever pass across the net to center defender Maxwell Patterson ’23, who tossed the ball into a gaping goal.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Simko said. “Everything that we get offensively starts on the defensive end.”
The Engineers responded before the third quarter concluded when Ivatorov slapped a lobbed pass into the Bruno net. The quarter ended with Brown up 12-6.
MIT rallied in the final quarter, turning a few Bruno penalties into easy goals, but additional scores from Simko and Strothart ensured the game remained out of reach.
The win came just hours after Bruno’s defeat of Long Island University 12-4 in which Stothart scored four goals to lead the Bears.
Brown had gone 3-3 the previous weekend while hosting the Bruno Classic tournament. All three of the Bears’ losses came against teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.
“The team is looking strong, especially offensively. We have a lot of great talent here and we’re looking like we’re in a good position to be successful later on in the season,” said center defender Nicholas Berry ’23.5.
The Bears will travel to California next weekend for games against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Whittier College and No. 9 Pepperdine University.