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Polo Places Second at Easterns

By Ming-Tai Huh

ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR

The MIT water polo team traveled to Kings Point, NY last weekend for the Division Three Eastern Championships. MIT rolled over its first two opponents, using the matches to give the bench some playing time and work out defensive problems, but the Engineers eventually lost a close championship game to Johns Hopkins University.

Having the second seed ranking, only the third game against last year’s champs would be a challenge. So far this year, MIT has had some trouble with finishing games. A lackluster record of (7-9) can show this tendency. However, of those six or seven losses, MIT had lost by two go als when heading into the last quarter tied or ahead with its opponents. At this tournament, however, they came to win despite the year’s let-downs.

Embarking early Saturday morning, the Engineers made their way to Long Island. Just five hours later they started their first tournament game against Grove City College. The game was pretty much over before it began -- this was little more than a warm-up for MIT. In the first quarter, MIT pulled ahead with a lead of 8-2. Stefan K. Bewley ’01 lead the team’s offensive assault by assisting all eight goals.

The Engineers finished off Grove City using all of their players. The final score was 15-11.

WLC gives bench playing time

All fired up and ready to go after screening Fight Club during the afternoon, MIT jumped into the water knowing that they would be victorious. The first quarter kicked off with an Engineer scoring frenzy. Jeffrey J. Colton ’02 marked the first tally with a 4-meter penalty shot. Just 30 seconds later, Bewley scored on a breakaway. After another goal scored by Colton, starter James C. Brady ’03 added a goal of his own.

With a 6-1 score after the first quarter, MIT had shown its ability to score. Moving right along, MIT made offensive strides to 11-6 by the half. Despite the large lead, the Engineers were dissatisfied with their defense breakdowns. In the next half, MIT outscored their opponents 7-5. Yet again, MIT played its entire team against W & L, giving rest to the starters, but five goals was still more than W & L should have been able to take. The Engineers would have to be sharper for the next day’s championship game against Johns Hopkins University.

Assistant coach Brett A. Cruden said that the first two games were “a warm up. Given we had a pretty good seed, these teams were easy to beat. These teams do not have fully developed programs. Tomorrow we look forward to JHU.”

Noon, Sunday -- the faceoff began between MIT and JHU. The game started off on a goal by the team’s leading scorer, Colton. JHU, surprised but not fazed by the opening goal came back with a two-pointer of their own. Bewley charged up the offense with a ball side drive and shot to set the score even at two points. Unfortunately, the first quarter ended at 3-2 after a goal by JHU in the last minute.

Just two minutes into the second quarter, Colton was ejected from the game from remark made towards a referee after arguing a call. Referee Bruce Moorehouse, who had given Colton an ejection already this season, took MIT’s primary scorer out of the game. Head coach Jeffrey Ma ’94 was outraged by the judgment, but could not protest much having already received a warning for arguing a previous call made against MIT.

Ejection threatens MIT

The Engineers fell 4-2 late in the second quarter being a bit unorganized after a series of damaging calls by the officials. At the half, Ma regrouped his team to plan a new strategy.

“We can win this game without Jeff, keep up the movement, run ball-side drives. Let’s go, show them we can play like a team,” Ma said.

Immediately at the start of the second half, Larry W. Aller ’00 scored from the 2-meter position to cut JHU’s lead to one goal. While goalkeeper Ryan P. Adams ’01 denied JHU shots from the outside, James C. Brady ’03 fired an outside shot on JHU’s half-asleep goalie. Brady’s goal tied the game with five minutes in the third quarter resulting in a timeout by the JHU coach.

By the end of the quarter, the MIT team succumbed to JHU’s depth. Few substitutions for MIT caused immense fatigue and defensive susceptibility. The score was 8-4 at the beginning of the last quarter, but MIT wasn’t ready to accept its defecit. Brady led a comeback with a blazing two-pointer with 5:30 left. JHU made another goal to make the score 9-6.

Adams then took the offense in his own hand and scored on a full pool length shot. The Engineers were awarded two points bringing the game back to within one goal, 9-8. After enough yelling from the JHU coach, the referee’s decided to give him a well-deserved warning.

Going into the final minutes of the game, JHU scored once again trying to save themselves from the current offensive rush. Soon after, MIT retaliated with a powerful shot by Scott A. Hansen ’02 to bring the score back within one. Then MIT gained another opponent: time. With only a minute left, the Engineers had only one chance to tie up the game for overtime. With some great effort, MIT was awarded a 6-on-5 opportunity. However, the Engineers failed to capitalize and lost the game.

“The team played really hard to the very end. I think we can take a lot from that game and apply it to ones in the future, whether it be handling the officials or the situation,” Colton said.