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Women’s water polo wins three of six at Bruno Classic

Stellar offensive play from Ella Palmer ’26, Emily Suong ’25 leads Bears through tournament

<p>The Bears hit the road the weekend of Feb. 17 for the Santa Clara tournament to continue their season.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics</p>

The Bears hit the road the weekend of Feb. 17 for the Santa Clara tournament to continue their season.

Courtesy of Brown Athletics

This weekend, the women’s water polo team (4-4) hosted the Bruno Classic at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center. Bruno came away with three victories and three losses after some challenging matches against ranked opponents.

“This weekend was highly anticipated as many of our key players are injured and currently unable to play. I think a lot of us, including me, were nervous about how we were going to be able to perform so early in the season and without many of our teammates,” Emily Suong ’25 wrote in a message to The Herald.

Head Coach Felix Mercado praised the team for persevering “in difficult situations where folding looked like the only option.” 

“Falling behind to three quality opponents was not the situation we wanted to put ourselves in, but it did show us how we can be resilient and fight to get back in the game,” he added.


Bruno came out hot in their first match of the weekend, taking on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2-4) and grabbing themselves an 18-14 victory to kick the weekend off. The Bears won the game after an eight-goal third period to take the lead.

The victory was led by Suong, who notched a team-high six goals.

“Especially for myself, I felt it was time for me to step up as a new upperclassman and contribute a lot more offensively than I have in the past,” Suong wrote in a message to The Herald. “This past weekend, I felt a lot more confident and aware of my role on this team.”

Utility players Ella Palmer ’26 and Claire Poissonnier ’25 both managed to find the back of the net three times to complement Suong’s performance.

Later that day, the Bears took on Salem (2-10) and handed them a resounding 14-7 defeat. Bruno dominated the Tigers, leading them through the entire match. Palme managed to score four more times, bringing her daily total to seven. 

The Bears opened their Saturday with a match against No. 25 Pomona-Pitzer (3-3) in a nail-biting 13-12 loss. 

“We understand (that) while no one wants to lose tough games, no one wins championships in February. With this mindset, I feel good that this will only make us hungrier if we truly want to not be comfortable with losing,” Mercado wrote in an email to The Herald.

Despite it being their first loss of the weekend, the match featured impressive solo performances from Palmer and Suong. Suong assisted on two goals and scored twice herself. Palmer took a more direct approach to the offense, scoring on six different occasions with no assists for half of Brown’s points.

On the defensive side, goalkeeper Roxanne Hazuka ’26 made 13 saves during the match but was unable to keep out the winning shot. 

“Being in a dog fight is always super intense and stress-inducing, especially when facing a team we know we can beat,” Suong wrote. “Making sure all of us are calm and collected is a huge part of beating a team out, but it really comes down to who wants it more — who is willing to look past their exhaustion to go the extra mile.”


The Bears looked to go the extra mile in their match against Austin College (0-4) that afternoon. They succeeded in shredding the Kangaroos in a 17-4 rout. Gaby Montalvo ’27 made her first appearance on the scoresheet, crushing with five goals to lead the Bears to the win.

Heading into Sunday, the Bears looked to face No. 15 Indiana (8-0) and No. 20 Wagner (6-2), their toughest two match-ups of the weekend. Despite the positive conclusion to Saturday, the Bears were unable to put together a convincing underdog performance and dropped both games to end the weekend with an even 3-3 record. 

“I don’t think it was fatigue as much as it was playing better teams,” Mercado wrote of the team’s Sunday performance. “Our team trains and conditions for these particular moments. I have never shied away from pushing them to their limits early on so we can build a certain mindset when it matters in April.”

Mercado noted that the team has replaced “five starters from last year’s team.” “We needed this weekend to get better,” he said.

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In their match against Indiana, Hazuka had another 13-save game, but despite her defensive stand, a stagnant offense crushed the Bears. Suong and Hanna Tidrenczel ’27 scored two each  — the only bright spots on the offense in the 11-6 loss.

After an impressive comeback in the second quarter against Wagner, Bruno entered halftime level with the Seahawks at 7-7. Coming out into the second half, however, the Bears couldn’t hold the lead for the rest of the match, and despite good team-play — with three players scoring more than one goal — the Bears dropped the game 13-10.

“Considering we were down quite a few key players, I think we did an amazing job keeping up with the other competitive teams,” Suong wrote. “We were exhausted but still put an immense amount of effort in and fought until the end, regardless of the score. I am extremely proud of this team and excited about what else we have in store.”

The Bears hit the road the weekend of Feb. 17 for the Santa Clara tournament to continue their season.

“We have a lot of lessons from this weekend, but I think the most important one is that we are nowhere near where we need to be to be our best, and that is exciting,” Mercado wrote. “This is a great group of young women who believe in each other. That will be our driving force to get to the top of the mountain.”

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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