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Grant D. Tomassi ’11 scores a goal late in the fourth period as the Engineers beat the University of California Santa Cruz, the defending NCAA Division III national champions, 13-9 Friday evening at the Zesiger Center Pool.
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The men’s water polo team competed against five other teams in last weekend’s MIT Invitational, notching victories in four matches and a tie in an exhibition. The Engineers were particularly impressive in posting a strong 13-9 win over the Division III defending national champion, the University of California Santa Cruz, in their opening match on Friday night.

Victory over defending champion

MIT’s water polo squad opened its 2007 home campaign in fine fashion on Friday night, downing defending Division III National Champion University of California Santa Cruz, 13-9. The Engineers used a gritty defensive effort to limit the fourth-ranked Banana Slugs to just one goal in the fourth quarter.

The game was the opener for both sides in the MIT Invitational, which saw nine teams from across the country compete in the Zesiger Center Pool from Friday to Sunday.

John V. Preis ’11 led the Cardinal and Gray offensive attack with three goals, pushing his team-best total to 12 on the season. Michael R. Smith-Bronstein ’09 notched two scores to give him 11 on the season, while Mark E. Artz ’10 and Brian C. Gardiner ’11 also bagged two goals each.

The contest was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first three quarters, with neither team distinguishing itself. UC Santa Cruz (0-1) held a 4-3 advantage after the first quarter, but a tight second saw the Engineers (2-1) knot the score at 6-6 heading into the half. The third quarter saw much of the same, as the squads traded goals, with Tech securing a slim 9-8 lead entering the final eight-minute period.

A brave defensive effort from MIT stymied the Banana Slugs in the fourth quarter, limiting their looks at goal and allowing just one shot to get past goalkeeper Nicholas A. Souza ’10. Meanwhile, four goals from the Engineers helped bury the game and produce the final 13-9 score line.

Smith-Bronstein and St. Julien Palmer Rosemond ’09 also contributed, each securing three steals to help out on the Cardinal and Gray’s defensive end. Morgan S. Laidlaw ’08 and Devin M. Lewis ’10 notched two steals apiece, and Lewis also drew two ejections.

Laidlaw, Rosemond, Robert J. Kalwarowsky ’10, and Grant D. Tomassi ’11 rounded out the scoring for Tech with one goal each.

Souza was solid in net, making six saves and contributing two steals to secure the victory.

Solid second day

MIT continued its impressive play at home with a pair of wins on Saturday afternoon, downing Connecticut College, 19-5, before edging out Washington and Jefferson College, 11-8. The Engineers also defeated Yale University’s club team, 12-4, in an exhibition match.

MIT’s offense continued to be red-hot on the second day of the competition, scoring in double digits in each of the three matches.

In the opener against Connecticut College (0-3), Preis once again led Tech (4-1) on the offensive end, bagging four goals for the first time in his young career. Kalwarowsky, Lewis, Gardiner, and Spencer D. Williams ’11 notched a pair of goals each, while Artz, Smith-Bronstein, Rosemond, Tomassi, Laidlaw, and goalkeeper Souza each contributed a goal apiece.

Goalkeeper Hiroshi A. Mendoza ’10 made six saves to earn the first victory of his intercollegiate career.

The afternoon tilt with Washington and Jefferson (0-2) was a much more hotly contested battle, as the Engineers were pushed to the very end by the Presidents. However, hat tricks from both Artz and Preis and a pair of strikes from Rosemond helped propel the Cardinal and Gray to victory. Laidlaw, Tomassi, and Gardiner each pitched in with one goal to round out the scoring.

Souza manned the net for MIT, stopping four shots and contributing two steals.

MIT finished Saturday’s competition in an exhibition match against Yale’s club team, as the youthful Engineers continued to hone their skills. Rosemond (3), Artz (2), Preis (2), Kalwarowsky, Tomassi, Lewis, Gardiner, and Alexander J. Mattfolk ’11 all found the back of the net for Tech. Preis’ pair of goals pushed his season-total to a team-best 18.

Mendoza returned to take over goalkeeping duties in the final contest, making four saves to earn his second win of the day.

The Engineers concluded play in an exhibition match against Santa Rosa Junior College on Sunday morning, which ended in a 6-6 tie.

The water polo team resumes play in an away match against Queens, New York on Saturday, Sept. 15 at noon.