Water Polo Third in Division IIIBy Jeffrey Ma
The varsity water polo team ended its season with an 11-3 victory over Williams College, giving them a third-place finish at the Division III Eastern Championships.
"We were a little disappointed not to finish first like we did last year, but considering the circumstances we're pretty happy with our performance," said goalie and co-captain Chad Gunnlaugson `93.
The team headed down to Virginia for the championship seeded third and opened their weekend with a 20-4 win over sixth-seeded U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Dave Brandenburger `95 pumped in four goals, allowing the team to relax in this game. Even co-captain Jim Lee `93, always a fierce and intense competitor, could be seen and heard smiling and laughing on the bench during halftime.
This win moved MIT into a semi-final showdown with Johns Hopkins. Last year, these two teams faced each other in the finals, and there was obviously no love lost between them. The teams exchanged goals feverishly until the end of the third period, when the score was knotted at eight. "We were outplaying them, but they just got the breaks," said Greg Shank `94. In the fourth period, Hopkins scored three goals off tipped shots. With one minute left, Shank answered with his fourth goal of the game, but it was too little, too late.
The loss placed the Beavers in the consolation finals against Williams College. The game began poorly for MIT, as Williams scored the first two goals to lead 2-0 after the first quarter. Coach John Benedick told the team to run a double-post offense with Lee at one post and Jeff Ma `94 at the other. This offense served dividends as the Beavers opened up a 4-2 lead in the first three minutes of the quarter. Each team added a goal, making it 5-3 at the end of the first half.
In the third period the Beavers showed off their defense as the fine work of Alan Liu `94 and Tony Scherer `94 served to stymie the Williams offense. The combination of Ma to Shank, which has resulted in over 20 goals this season connected again in the middle of the third quarter and the Beavers led 6-3 heading into the fourth period.
The final period opened with a flurry as MIT ran off 5 goals in the first three minutes. Jon Pfautz `95 made a fine play, snaring a high pass from Lee and slamming it into the goal.
The team ended with the season with a 13-13 record, 7-1 versus Division III opponents. The third place finish should be bettered next year, as the team will return five out of seven starters. Lee, Bandy, Gunnlaugson, and Isy Goldwassser `92 will be gone next year.