Water polo has strong showing at Labor Day Open

By SIMONE BLISS | September 6, 2018



Senior attacker Ryan Masi was a key contributor to the Jays’ offense.

This weekend, the Blue Jays traveled to Annapolis, Md. for the Naval Academy’s Labor Day Open. Ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III preseason poll and returning three All-Americans, senior utility players Giorgio Cico and Josh Kurtz, as well as junior attacker Finn Banks, the team was well-equipped to take on Division I competition in the tournament. 

“Prior to this weekend’s games, we had a very tough preseason, which really brought our team’s overall conditioning and skill level up and definitely contributed to our success. We had a very balanced effort from the entire team, as everyone played a part. In addition, we had great leadership from our seniors, captains and coaches, which helped us through the weekend,” freshman attacker Jayden Kunwar said.

Saturday, the Jays took on the No. 13 Princeton University Tigers and the Fordham University Rams. The first half of the Princeton game was very close. The Tigers ended the first quarter just ahead of the Jays, 5-3. The Jays scored two goals in the third quarter, but the Tigers ultimately pulled away for 12-5 victory.

Against Fordham, the Jays turned the tide around. Though the Rams scored two unanswered goals to start the match, the Blue Jays came back with three straight goals to end the quarter. The second quarter was more of the same, and the Jays closed the half up 6-4. The third quarter was hotly contested, ending 8-7 with a last-second goal from Kunwar. The competition was intense the last quarter, as the Rams clamored for their last chance to overcome the Jays. Their efforts would prove fruitless, however, as freshman driver Emerson Sullivan answered the Rams’ goal quickly after to give Hopkins a 9-8 win. This win marks the Jays’ 20th against the Rams.

There were no dust bunnies anywhere near Scott Natatorium on Sunday, as Hopkins ended the Open with a clean sweep. The Jays took on the Lindenwood University Lions in a blowout exhibition match and washed away the La Salle Explorers in an even more lopsided match later that day. 

Against the Lions, the Jays had already put up eight goals by the end of the half. They then scored three goals in both the third and fourth quarters. The lions battled but only managed to put up four goals after the first quarter, eventually falling to Hopkins 14-6. Standout performances from the Jays decided the match, as Banks put up four goals, the high for the game, and Kunwar put up three.

With their most impressive opening of the weekend, the Jays sped past the Explorers, scoring seven uncontested goals in the first quarter, including two from sophomore driver Nico Ivanov. Fired up, the Explorers scored four goals in the second quarter without an answer from the Blue Jays. Unfortunately for the Explorers, that quarter was the last time they would score that game, as the Jays put out the fire with a 14-goal run, leading to the highest-scoring game and the largest margin of victory since 2015. 

Kunwar spoke on the team’s overall takeaways from the weekend.

“From this weekend, we learned that our offensive system and our team defense works very well. We just have to tighten up some things, execute and finish off plays a bit better and we will be right where we want to be. Even though the Princeton game didn’t end with the outcome we wanted, we showed that we can play with teams of that caliber,” he said. “We just have to close out games better to secure wins against teams like them, as the score was very close until they pulled away in the fourth quarter.” 

The team returns to the pool this upcoming weekend at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7 to kick off the Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J.

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