Brown men’s water polo (18-6, 6-4 NWPC) picked up another win with a 9-7 victory Saturday morning over the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (11-13, 1-9 NWPC), but Bruno’s three-game winning streak was halted after they dropped a hard-fought 14-13 game to No. 10 Harvard (23-3, 9-1 NWPC) later that day.
“I felt we played decent enough to win both games, but by far we were not perfect,” wrote Head Coach Felix Mercado in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We still turned the ball over too many times, and also our shooting wasn't up to par to where it needs to be at this time of the year. I'm glad that we got a win, and we played competitively against a really good Harvard team.”
A balanced attack and a fast start proved key as Brown eked past MIT. The Bears roared out to a 5-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, with two goals from Máté Tymcyna ’27 and one apiece from Ilias Stothart ’26, Gabe Chang ’25 and Jaxson Tierney ’27. Brown never relinquished the lead, with third-quarter goals from Stothart and Thomas Hoffmeister ’24 giving Bruno a 9-5 lead that proved insurmountable due to strong defensive play.
Brown’s morning win against the Engineers laid the foundation for their efforts in the evening against the Crimson.
“Against MIT, I was disappointed in how we weren't as supportive as we needed to be, but we did show that we were resilient enough to win an ugly game. I actually think that helped us play well against Harvard,” Mercado wrote. “We needed a wake-up call. The MIT game gave us that. We still have work to do, but I feel the team is starting to understand how important it is to be locked in together for all 32 minutes of a game.”
The Bears lost 17-13 to Harvard earlier this season, and this weekend the game remained close — in large part due to the contributions of Stothart and goalkeeper Joe Gallagher ’24. A quick start powered by three goals from Stothart allowed Bruno to take an 8-7 lead going into the half against the Crimson. After Stothart and Chang scored in the third quarter, bringing the score to 10-7, a rapid Harvard response left both teams tied at 11 points as the quarter ended. Harvard almost took the lead, but was thwarted thanks to a sensational stop by Gallagher on a fast break with 12 seconds left on the clock.
“Luckily, we had a number of trailing defenders applying the right amount of pressure to avoid an ejection, and were able to funnel a shot to where I could get to it,” Gallagher wrote in an email to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “After making the save, I looked up and saw one of our freshmen attackers, Máté Tymcyna, on the other end of the pool working for a goal in anticipation. Because of our teammates’ trust in one another, we were able to turn a bad situation into an opportunity on the other end.”
After two Brown goals tied the score at 13 late in the fourth quarter, Harvard had a golden opportunity to take the lead as Gallagher was excluded. With Bruno lacking a goalie, the Crimson looked to capitalize on the Bears’ momentary weakness.
“The exclusion was on me — that was my fault. The way our defense responded was nothing short of amazing, and an example of why I love playing with this team,” wrote Gallagher. “After I got ejected, half of our defense packed the goal while the other half went to disrupt the Harvard shooters. This isn’t a situation we’ve found ourselves in many times before, so it was really great to see my teammates communicate effectively and come out with a save.”
Despite Brown’s valiant efforts, the continued Harvard pressure broke through Bruno’s defense. A goal from Kaleb Archer with 19 seconds left in his senior night game was the last blow in a back-and-forth affair.
“I think the lessons that we learned from the Harvard loss are pretty much the lessons that we've kind of been harping on all season,” Mercado wrote. “We need to protect the ball. We need to stop turning the ball over, and we need to be able to take better shots.”
Despite the efforts of Harvard’s James Rozolis-Hill, who tallied seven goals, Brown’s defense did well at limiting the Crimson’s offensive opportunities.
“Our team defense played their hearts out and was very effective against Harvard,” wrote Gallagher. “My teammates did a great job of not letting anybody with the ball get comfortable in front of the cage, and we were able to communicate effectively to navigate Harvard’s offense.”
Stothart’s continued strong offensive contributions were another positive takeaway for the Bears.
“Ilias is an incredible player and works tirelessly to be as good as he is. I'm sure he will tell you it's his teammates that allow him to be as great as he is,” Mercado wrote. “He trusts his teammates and his teammates trust him and that leads to his success.”
Brown will look to rebound from a Harvard loss for the second time this season, as their previous matchup on Oct. 8 preceded an eight-game Bears winning streak.
Brown closes out its season with two non-conference home games against No. 15 Fordham and Connecticut College before entering NWPC Tournament play.
“We will watch film getting ready for our next game against a highly ranked team in Fordham, and also (get ready) to honor our seniors,” Mercado wrote.