Water polo goes 0-2 in weekend games against tough competition

By ERIC LYNCH | November 7, 2019

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HOPKINSSPORTS.COM

Water polo has been struggling this season, but the team is still determined to play hard.

The men’s water polo team traveled to Springfield, Va. to play a pair of games this past weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 2, the Blue Jays took on the George Washington University Colonials, and on Sunday, Nov. 3, they played against the Bucknell University Bison. Both teams were 17-7 heading into the games, while Hopkins had accumulated a 9-17 record before the weekend. 

Sophomore attacker Jayden Kunwar discussed how the team prepares for tough opponents. 

“Going into the weekend playing ranked opponents like GW [George Washington] and Bucknell, we knew that they were going to be tough games,” he said. “Both teams have strong individual players, so going into the weekend we wanted to try to limit those strong players and make the rest of the team step up.”

Unfortunately, the Colonials got off to a quick start against the Blue Jays. Sophomore defender Jake Pearson scored the first goal of the game and gave Hopkins the quick lead. But after the first quarter, the score was already up to 8-1 in George Washington’s favor. 

In the second quarter, Hopkins once again started off firing. Junior attacker John Murphy scored right away to bring the score to 8-2. Thirty seconds later, however, the Colonials began their scoring again, netting two straight goals to increase their lead to eight. Kunwar and Pearson also scored in the second quarter, as did sophomore driver Emerson Sullivan, but when halftime arrived, the score was 14-5. 

The third quarter went back and forth between the two sides. The Colonials scored the first two goals of the quarter, but freshman driver Chris Freese and Murphy scored the next two. Kunwar also scored his second goal, but again the Colonials’ lead was not diminished. The Blue Jays entered the fourth quarter down 18-8. 

After freshman utility Kamran Eslami gave Hopkins another point, neither team scored for another minute. Down by nine, the Blue Jays opted to take a timeout. Hopkins came out of the timeout and scored two unanswered goals, bringing them within seven points. 

However, it was already too late, and the game ended 20-12 after a few more back and forth goals. A disappointing loss for the Blue Jays, but they would have a chance at redemption the next day.

Kunwar led the team with four goals. He explained the feeling of losing despite scoring so much individually. 

“At the end of the day it comes down to our team’s performance, so even though I did have a good game it definitely is frustrating that we lost to them,” he said. “But we learn more from games like that and we can prepare better for when we will see them in the games that matter: the Conference championships.”

In the next game, the Blue Jays faced the Bucknell Bison. This game saw less scoring overall, but the first quarter was especially devoid of goals. Bucknell scored the first two goals of the game before senior attacker Finn Banks got Hopkins on the board. The score of 2-1 carried over into the second quarter.

Bucknell scored to increase their lead, but Banks fired back with his second goal of the game. Bucknell wasn’t willing to fall behind in this first half, as they went on a 4-0 scoring run to finish the second quarter. Hopkins was now behind 7-2 and needed to do some catching up if they wanted to avoid going 0-2 for the weekend. 

But for all their effort, Hopkins wasn’t able to turn the tide in the third quarter. Bucknell scored two straight goals to begin the half. Freese scored a much-needed goal for the Blue Jays to bring the score to 9-3. Murphy scored another goal, but Bucknell’s offensive onslaught was too tough to stop. Bucknell scored a total of five goals in the third quarter to make the score 12-4. 

Things looked grim for the Blue Jays, but they certainly didn’t give up. The last quarter of the weekend featured goals from Sullivan, Kunwar and Murphy, while the Blue Jays limited the Bucknell offense to three goals as well. This fourth quarter was much more evenly matched, but the game ended with Hopkins losing 15-7. This was the Blue Jays’ second straight loss by exactly eight points, and its safe to say the team did not exit this weekend with the success they had been hoping for.

Kunwar commented on how the team learns from losses. 

“Especially coming off of a very strong weekend beating MIT, losses like these help keep us grounded and focused on what lies ahead,” he said. “We learned that we need to work on our team defense by shutting down other teams’ dominant players. Also, we now know what defenses other teams are going to throw against us, so we have time to figure out a way to beat those defenses.”

Hopkins is now 2-8 in the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC). This puts them in sixth place in the East Region standings. Bucknell is 8-1 in Conference play, landing them in first place. And George Washington is 7-1 in Conference play, putting them in second. This means that Hopkins faced two of the toughest possible opponents this weekend. Nevertheless, Hopkins will look to beat them come playoffs.

The water polo team will play the Fordham Rams and the Wagner Seahawks in Baltimore on Sunday, Nov. 10. After those games, the team will look toward the MAWPC Championship tournament. 

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