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April 14, 2024

Water polo emerges as champions after beating MIT

By CHRISTOPHER XIAO | October 29, 2022



Water polo edges out MIT in championship rematch.

The Hopkins water polo team faced off against a familiar foe, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the championship game of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division-III Eastern tournament. The Blue Jays ultimately secured their 20th CWPA DIII Eastern Championship.

In the 2021 CWPA D-III Eastern tournament, Hopkins emerged victorious in an 11–10 triple-overtime affair over MIT. The MIT Engineers headed into the 2022 matchup looking for revenge.

The road to the championship game for Hopkins started with a 21–5 blowout win over Penn State Behrend. After a close 15–14 victory over Augustana College, Hopkins then advanced to the title game. 

Hopkins, named as the second seed, came into the match as an underdog. The MIT Engineers were the number one seed and ranked fourth nationally. 

MIT opened the game with a goal in the first 24 seconds. However, the Blue Jays quickly responded with goals from freshman attacker Daniel Palfi, junior utility Paul Gensbigler and junior center Liam Housenbold. The game continued as a back-and-forth affair in the first half.

MIT came out swinging in the third quarter, with attackers igniting an Engineers’ 5–1 run in the third quarter. Hopkins weathered the furious MIT storm and responded with five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter, courtesy of Palfi, graduate attacker Emerson Sullivan, senior utility Kami Eslami, freshman utility Quint Steffey and sophomore utility Ian Raley. This run pushed Hopkins to a two-goal lead, which the team managed to defend for a 12–11 victory. 

In an interview with The News-Letter, Palfi commented on facing MIT again in the championship game.

“Even though we had beaten MIT the previous two title games in a row, we knew it was going to be a dog fight the whole way through,“ he said. “We were still able to approach the game with confidence because, at the end of the day, it was still our title to lose.” 

This championship is the 20th CWPA D-III Eastern championship in the school’s history. Sullivan also repeated as the tournament’s most valuable player. Palfi led the University’s scoring with  three recorded goals and one assist for a four-point day.

He credited his performance to his teammates and their good defense. 

“Our collective effort on defense created easy opportunities to get open in transition, and my teammates did a good job finding me when I was open,” he said.

He described the feelings that came with winning the title.

“Obviously, it feels amazing. It's super rewarding knowing our hard work has finally paid off and that if we continue to grind through the rest of the season like we have been, then we have a great shot at bringing home a national title as well,“ he said. 

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