Bison Athlete of the Week: Stefan Aleksic, Men’s Water Polo

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The men’s water polo team captured five victories Sept. 11-13 after defeating each of its opponents at the Bison Invitational. Leading the Orange and Blue to such success was standout Stefan Aleksic ’16, who totaled 13 goals and six assists on the weekend. A two-time honorable mention all-American, Aleksic has played a crucial role for both the Bison offense and defense in the past three years, but the start to his senior year may be an indication of his most successful season yet. Despite personal success, Aleksic is determined to leave his legacy on the team through an Eastern Championship.

“All we care about is winning an Eastern Championship and playing the NCAA Final Four. I think we have the talent and right mindset to win this year, if we keep working hard for the rest of the season,” Aleksic said.

The team was close to reaching this goal in Aleksic’s first season as a Bison, but fell just short of acquiring a ring. Aleksic quickly realized that he would only have three more chances to win a title, and as a senior captain, he plans to achieve both his personal and team goals before retiring from Kinney Natatorium.

On Sept. 11-13, Aleksic pushed the team through five outstanding wins, especially in a nail-biting victory over No. 13 Brown on Sept. 11. In front of a packed house, the Orange and Blue defeated the reigning Eastern champs 8-7 with seconds to go in the match. This momentum carried the team throughout the rest of the weekend, as they were able to defeat Penn State Behrend, Fordham, Toronto, and Washington and Jefferson Sept. 12-13. The quick turnaround of games proved to be a non-issue for the Bison despite stiff competition.

“Playing multiple games in a day requires more of a mental preparation than anything else. I try to keep thinking about water polo and stay focused on personal and team goals so I can perform at the similar level even when I’m tired,” Aleksic said.

This mindset proved effective for Aleksic in the team’s last game against Washington and Jefferson, as he scored a career-high five goals and recorded two assists, leading the Bison in their 20-8 victory. These highly successful weekends are not foreign to the Serbian native, as Aleksic was awarded the Bison Athlete of the Week last season after an impressive nine goals and nine assists at the Santa Clara Rodeo. He also concluded his junior campaign as a member of the First Team All-CWPA Southern Division.

Although Aleksic boasts numerous recognitions for his play over the years, he recognizes how much he has also changed as a player under the guidance of head coach John McBride.

“I think that my leadership skills have improved immensely. My fellow captains and I have learned from older guys what it takes to have a successful team and winning mentality, so we are trying to continue that tradition,” Aleksic said.

Aleksic and fellow seniors Jedd Thayer ’16 and Max Wilder ’16 will work together to continue past team traditions in order to hopefully start the new tradition of continuously winning championships. Although Aleksic has enjoyed his own personal success over the years, he is quick to reiterate the team nature of water polo. He will take advantage of his role as a leader, as he hopes to influence the rest of the team like upperclassmen have in past years.

“I always tell them to give one hundred percent every day and make the most out of every practice, since each one of us gets only four tries to win Eastern Championship. In case we find ourselves playing in the finals, we won’t give up on that opportunity again,” Aleksic said. 

The team’s next opportunity to make progress towards that championship will come on the road Sept. 26 when it takes on conference opponents George Washington and Johns Hopkins.

 

 

 

 

2015 Stats:

18 Goals

10 Assists

28 Points Total

 

Career Stats:

164 Goals 

132 Assists

296 Points Total

 

 

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