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Water Polo Finishes Second at Div. II East Coast Tournament

By Matthew Lau, Robert McIntyre, and Zachary Lee
Team Members

Last weekend, the men's water polo team traveled to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland for the Division III East Coast Tournament.

Also participating in the tournament were Amherst College, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Johns Hopkins. MIT arrived looking to improve on last year's third place finish.

MIT's first game of the weekend was against the Merchant Marine Academy. On Tech's first possession, Jonathan Pfautz '95 set the tone for the game by firing a shot which glanced off goalies head and into the net.

Pfautz said, "I was just looking to put it past him. I didn't realize he was going to dive that direction."

MIT continued to brutalize Merchant Marine goalies, with 27 shots on goal. Tech eventually emerged victorious, 1611.

The top scorers for the game were Pfautz and Matthew Lau '97, both with four goals, followed by David Brandenburger '95 and Zachary Lee '98, who both scored three goals.

Next, MIT came up against Amherst College, who had also defeated Merchant Marine, 1210 in overtime. Amherst led off the game with a quick goal, but MIT quickly recovered. On the next posession, Lee confounded his defender, who soon fouled him in front of the goal.

Lee was awarded a penalty shot, which he used to tie the game at 11. Later in the quarter, Brandenburger, not wanting to be outdone by his teammate, scored after getting his defender ejected. MIT continued in this fashion, drawing a total of 12 ejections during the game.

Robert McIntyre '98 said, "We came in and played good water polo. They came in and played dirty. Consequently they spent a lot more time in the penalty box."

Even with Amherst's play, MIT came away with a convincing 95 victory, supported three convincing counterattack goals by Pfautz, and the nearly invincible blocking of goalies Evan Wies '96 (12 blocks), and S. Brian Fitch '96 (9 blocks, 3 steals). Both Fitch and Wies displayed incredible defensive abilities throughout the tournament.

Johns Hopkins beats MIT, 236

MIT returned to the pool on Sunday for the championship game against Johns Hopkins. Last year, when the Engineers placed third at the Div. III tournament, they fell to Hopkins in the semifinal game. This year, the two met again in the finals.

Hopkins opened an early 20 lead on a quick two-point shot off the sprint, and then stretched its advantage to 30 with a power-play goal two minutes into the period. MIT retaliated on a quick timeout play which involved a Lee-Nazario pick and a pick between Lau and Ben Soule '96, eventually resulting in a goal.

Hopkins then ran a series of seven unanswered goals before Bradley Pearson '95 and Nazario scored back to back goals to make the score 113. MIT continued to steal the ball and play well, but seemed unable to get the ball into the opponents net, and finally lost 236.

Nazario said, "It was a good game; much closer than the score indicated. It's disappointing to end a career on a loss, but I'm glad that I had the opportunity to play on this team."

Tournament leaders included Lau (9 goals on 14 attempts, 6 steals, 2 assists), Pfautz (7 goals in 9 attempts, 2 steals, 2 assists), Brandenburger (4 goals in 6 attempts, 3 steals, 1 assist) and Fitch (22 blocks, 4 steals).

MIT finished its season with a record of 610, with sixth place honors in the Eastern Water Polo Association's North division (all divisions), and 2nd place in East Coast Division III teams.

Coach John Benedick said, "This was a very successful season in many ways and most certainly a season to build from for next year. We were very fortunate to have Evan and Javier as captains."

Next year, the team will miss this year's seniors who will be lost to graduation. Co-captain All-American Javier Nazario '95 provided excellent leadership for the team as well as contributing his offensive talents. Pfautz, who led the team in shooting percentage, will be missed for his breakaway speed and counterattack ability.

Pearson led the team in 2 point goals and was second in scoring. He displayed his value both as a 2-meter set and as an outside shooter. The team will also feel the loss of Brandenburger, who returned this year after a year off to fill the fourth spot in the two meter rotation and become a valuable part of the front court offense.

Returning next year will be goalies Co-captain Wies and Fitch, along with starters Ben Soule '96, Lau (1994 scoring and assist leader) and Zachary Lee. In addition, the talents of Sean Carpenter '96, Paul Tan '97, Mark Lebovitz '98, McIntyre, and lefty Eugene Lee '98 will form a good foundation on which to base another great season.