Water Polo finishes strong at Princeton Invitational

By ERIC LYNCH | September 19, 2019

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The Hopkins men’s water polo team traveled to Princeton, New Jersey this weekend to participate in the Princeton Invitational. They played the Santa Clara Broncos, the Princeton Tigers and the Iona Gaels. 

Junior attacker John Murphy talked about staying motivated during games. “It is important for our team, especially as we are low on numbers this season, to enter each game fully focused on the task at hand,“ he said. “This weekend we did a great job moving forward and bringing determination to the pool each time we lined up to compete.” 

To kick off the weekend, the team began against Santa Clara. Hopkins fell behind fairly quickly, only scoring one goal to the Broncos’ five at the beginning of the second quarter, but a team effort helped bring the score to 5-3. 

The Broncos wanted to win this game badly, as was evident by how they came out of halftime. The Blue Jays failed to stop a scoring run that brought the score to 13-7 by the end of third quarter. The fourth quarter was more of the same as Santa Clara wouldn’t ease up on their scoring assault, ending the game with a 17-8 victory. 

Despite the tough loss, sophomore defender Jake Pearson had a great game, scoring two goals and adding two assists to tie a personal high in points. This competition brought Santa Clara’s record to 2-2. Murphy explained some of the team’s goals this season. 

“A goal I am sure our whole team can agree on is the continual advancement of our talent and level of play. We are aware there is work to be done, and it is clear that each member on our team is committed to bettering both their own play and the performance of the team as a whole,“ he said. “By working hard throughout the remainder of our season, I expect us to beat a number of D-I programs and finish within the top half of our conference.”

As they played against a Division-I Princeton program in game two, it’s safe to say Murphy and the team wanted to win badly. 

Moving on to Saturday, the Blue Jays faced off against the hosting Princeton Tigers. Princeton was ranked 12th in the nation. 

The beginning of the game saw a flurry of scoring by both sides, but with a few minutes remaining in the first half, Hopkins found themselves down 9-2. A goal by freshmen driver Chris Freese brought the score to 9-3 before halftime. 

The third quarter went definitively Princeton’s way, bringing the score to 14-5 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was even on both sides, bringing the final score to 16-8. 

Another tough loss, but junior driver Olin Shipstead was able to get a career high in assists with three. Princeton’s record was brought to 3-3 at the end of the Invitational. 

After falling in their first two games, Hopkins had one last game to earn redemption. Shipstead discussed the team’s mindset heading into the third game. “We had lost to Iona last weekend, so we knew we could come out with a win if we played hard and left it all in the pool,” he said. 

The team played Iona on Saturday to end the Invitational. Hopkins had already lost their first meeting with Iona earlier in the season. This game was characterized by the evenness between both teams. At halftime, the score was an even 8-8. At the end of the third quarter, the teams were still tied, but now at 12-12. 

Senior attacker Finn Banks scored the first goal of the fourth quarter, inspiring a scoring run by the Blue Jays and helping them secure a 15-13 victory. 

Over the course of the game, there were a total of eight ties. Sophomore attacker Jayden Kunwar led the team with five goals in the game. Murphy also scored four goals with three assists, both career highs for him. Iona’s record dropped to 1-6 while Hopkins rose to 2-5.

After such an impressive individual game, Murphy reflected on his individual performance. 

“All I hope to do is set an example characterized by full commitment and maximum effort for my teammates to follow,” he said. “I aim to emphasize play centered around accountability on defense and smart decision making on the offensive end. With a team fully invested in these practices, the results should be noticeable every game.”

This upcoming weekend, the team will head to Bucknell to participate in the Bucknell Invitational. The current 12th-ranked team, Harvard, as well as the 17th ranked team, St. Francis, will both be in attendance and will play the Blue Jays on Saturday. 

Shipstead explained what the team is looking forward to as the season continues. 

“Our most immediate goal is getting our team healthy and getting our injured players back in the water,” he said. “Beyond that, the NCAA has implemented a national D-III tournament for the first time this year, and we’ve got our sights on flying out to California for the final four in December,” he said. 

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