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‘Our ceiling is high’: Men’s water polo excels in Bruno Classic

Bears win three of five weekend matches, upset no. 15 Fordham

<p>Sunday night’s game against Fordham was the Bears’ highest-scoring performance of the weekend.</p><p>Courtesy of Emma C. Marion/Brown Athletics</p>

Sunday night’s game against Fordham was the Bears’ highest-scoring performance of the weekend.

Courtesy of Emma C. Marion/Brown Athletics

It was a split start to the season for the men’s water polo team (3-2) last weekend. The Bears opened their season at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center with five matches in the Bruno Classic. They emerged victorious against Augustana College, Bucknell University and no. 15 Fordham University, but were unable to win against no. 11 Pepperdine University and no. 6 University of the Pacific.

On Saturday, the Bears showcased an impressive offensive performance against Augustana. In the first quarter, Bruno outscored the Vikings 6-1 with goals from five separate players, including two from attacker Jaxson Tierney ’27. 

After an even 3-3 second period, Brown opened the third quarter by netting five shots and allowing Augustana to score only once. 

Center Ilias Stothart ’26 had a dominant performance during the game, scoring in every quarter to tally six goals total.

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Later that day, the Bears took their first loss of the season to the 11th-ranked Pepperdine. Despite utility player Máté Tymcyna ’27 and attacker Gabe Chang ’25 scoring three goals each, Pepperdine trounced the Bears defense, which conceded 22 goals in the loss. 

Down by only five at the end of the second period, the Bears were on the wrong end of a 7-1 rout in the third, which left them down 16-5. Bruno managed five goals in the fourth, but dropped the game 22-10. 

“On that Pepperdine game, we learned that we're not as good as we think we are if we don't bring the energy, play humble, play grounded and stay true to ourselves,” said Head Coach Felix Mercado.

After splitting Saturday’s matchups, the Bears returned Sunday with a win against Bucknell. Chang led the Bears in scoring with three goals, followed by attacker Thomas Hoffmeister ’24 with two goals and two assists. 

The match was tight through the first two periods, but the Bears managed to dominate defensively from the first quarter onward: After allowing four goals in the first period, the Bears only conceded two more for the rest of the game, earning a 12-6 win.

Sunday night’s game against Fordham was the Bears’ highest-scoring performance of the weekend. After conceding six goals in the first period, the Bears mounted a sizable comeback, outscoring the Rams 17-7 in the last three periods. 

“It makes us excited because we were able to achieve this with two weeks of practice and us being together with a lot of fresh faces,” said attacker Filip Aleksic ’24. “That made a lot of impact early on.”

The win was led by goalie Joe Gallagher ’24, whose 11 saves helped prevent Fordham from extending their early lead out of the Bears’ reach. 

The Bears offense also dominated. Stothart scored five or more goals in one game for the second time during the Bruno Classic. Tymcyna netted four and Tierney also scored three. Tymcyna assisted on three goals, with Tierney assisting twice. 

“I can just tell you from Sunday morning, this is a different team,” Mercado said. “And we have a lot of work to do. But I think our mindset is to stay together no matter what the score is, as you saw last night” in the comeback victory.

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Monday’s matchup with Pacific was a heartbreaking defeat for the Bears. After going up 3-2 early in the first period against the sixth-ranked Pacific Tigers, the Bears found themselves in a hard-fought battle, with neither team managing to extend a lead past two goals for the entirety of the game. 

During the opening minutes of the second period, the Bears came back from a 5-4 deficit to bring the lead back to 6-5, but quickly lost it again to Pacific and never regained the lead. 

“I mean, we just wanted to play our best and we weren't worrying about what they're doing and what (shots) they're making. I think our focus is on our energy,” said Chang. “Our focus these past games has been on our energy, our composure.”

In the closing minutes of the match, Chang converted on two penalties to knot the game again from a two-point deficit. 

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“I think after you shoot one on the same goal, it’s a mind game at that point,” Chang said. “You just need to stay composed.”

The match would remain tied until the Tigers took a two-point lead that the Bears were unable to recover from. After a consolation goal from attacker Trey Rogers ’26, the Bears lost the match 13-12. 

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Mercado. “I think our ceiling is high. And we just have to make sure that we get there and surpass it.”

The Bears will continue their season Saturday when they take on Biola University and Long Beach State University in Long Beach, California.


Dennis Carey

Dennis Carey is a Sports Editor who enjoys playing volleyball, listening to and collecting vinyl records, and poorly playing the guitar in his spare time.



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