Bison Men’s Water Polo faces tough matchups at the Princeton Invitational

Lauren Medeiros, Contributing Writer

Over the weekend, the Bison men’s water polo team attended the Princeton Invitational in New Jersey. The Bison fought hard against three schools: Princeton, St. Francis (Brooklyn), and Cal Lutheran. 

 

In their first Saturday game, the Bison took on the number 10 rank, the Princeton Tigers. Unfortunately, they fell short to the Tigers, resulting in an 18-10 loss. Both teams came into this game with intensity and excitement, however, with the Tigers controlling most of the game.

 

During the first quarter of play, the Bison were scoreless until the 21 second mark when freshman Aleksa Stefanovic ’26 finally broke the spell. Stefanovic buried the ball in the back of the net, bringing motivation to his team. 

 

All the way until the end, the Bison continued to battle the Tigers. By halftime, the Tigers had taken control of the game with a 9-3 lead. When entering the third quarter, the Orange and Blue turned up the heat. Ethan Jones ’24 scored a career high of three goals and the Bison narrowed the gap to only a five point game. Additionally, other players that made contact with the net were Andu Vlasceanu ’23 and Jack Murad ’26. 

 

In their second game of the invitational, the Bison suffered another defeat to St. Francis (Brooklyn) 12-10. The first half remained a close scoring game with no more than a two goal differential. Jack Lewis ’23 had a goal in the third quarter that helped keep the Bison at a more comfortable lead of 9-7. 

 

Throughout the game, Doruk Ozar ’24 scored three times, alongside Jones and Stefanovic who also contributed multiple points. 

 

Towards the end of the fourth quarter, St. Francis remarkably scored two tying goals at the 6:41 and 2:27 marks, bringing the match into overtime. For the Bison, this was the first overtime matchup of the season. 

 

In the first overtime period, the Bison were down by one and Murad quickly scored with 59 seconds left advancing the game into double overtime. Unfortunately, the Bison were scoreless in the second overtime and fell short by two points. 

 

For their final game of the Princeton Invitational, Bucknell’s luck began to turn around. The Bison didn’t let Saturday’s outcomes affect their mindset or game plan, but instead used those losses as motivation. 

 

“Our performance on Saturday was pretty lackluster. We had good opportunities and didn’t convert. Sunday we played like we should’ve the whole weekend. It seemed like we came out with a different energy and intensity on Sunday as opposed to Saturday,” Ian Shultz ’26 said.

 

Earlier in the season, the Bison faced the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen and suffered a close 13-12 loss. Now the team was fired up for this rematch and determined to stick to their game play. 

 

Going into the game, the Bison had prepared themselves for a back-and-forth game. The first half was close in scoring, especially with the Kingsmen adding a point with 39 seconds to go in the half. However, Vlasceanu quickly responded by drilling the ball into the goal with 11 seconds, giving Bucknell a lead of 9-5, heading into the second half. 

 

By the third quarter, the Bison began to dominate the matchup completely. In the third quarter alone, they had seven unanswered goals, which extended their lead to 16-5. Many of the points in this game were contributed by Jones, Stefanovic, Valasceanu, Murad, Ozar, Colby Paine ’23 and Shultz ’26. Finally, after a battle in the fourth quarter to stay on top, the Bison walked away with a 16-9 victory. 

 

“Our team definitely felt good about the win over Cal Lutheran,” Shultz said. “We know we are the better team, so it was nice to finally play like it. Going forward, we just have to focus on doing the little things right to help eliminate careless mistakes that cost us.”

 

This weekend, the Bison are taking their talents home to the Kinney Natatorium, hosting the Bucknell Invitational. They will compete against Johns Hopkins, Ford and Wagner.

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