Men’s Water Polo boasts perfect record at home

Kyle Adams , Staff Writer

Coming off of an up-and-down weekend at the Bruno Classic Sept. 5-6, the men’s water polo team sought to play more consistently in their first home appearance of the season at the Bison Invitational. The Orange and Blue went 5-0 on the weekend, outscoring their opponents 66-30.

The weekend opened Sept. 11 with a thrilling clash of nationally ranked opponents, as the No. 17 Bison downed No. 13 Brown 8-7 in a game that came down to the wire. With only 32 seconds remaining in the game, Nate Hunter ’17 drew an ejection and, after head coach John McBride called a timeout, netted the decisive goal for the Orange and Blue. This game was all about the Bison’s defense, as the men only allowed two first-half goals, and goalkeeper Charlie Niehaus ’18 recorded a career-high of 12 saves. McBride, a former assistant at Brown, was able to improve his record against his former team to 2-4 during his tenure at the University.

The second day of the tournament saw two more wins for the Bison and more strong defensive play. In the first contest of the day, the Bison were able to improve to 7-0 all-time against Penn State Behrend, whom they trounced 14-3. Patrick McKenzie ’17 saw his first start between the bars and racked up double digit saves behind a defense that tallied a season-best 17 steals. The Bison shot out of the gates, stunning the Lions by going up 6-0 before any response came. Hunter, Stefan Aleksic ’16, Ratimir Babic ’17, and Johnathan Coleman ’19 each had two goals in the victory.

The Bison continued rolling in their second game on Sept. 12, cruising to a 10-1 victory over Fordham. Niehaus was back in net for the Orange and Blue and continued the string of impressive goalkeeping over the weekend, racking up 11 saves, two of which came on penalty shots. Niehaus was working on a shutout until he let the Rams’ lone goal slip through with 6:37 remaining in the third quarter. The Bison offense was led again by Aleksic and Babic, who each scored twice in the game. Marko Djordjevic ’19 and Jeff Hagen ’18 also contributed two goals. The win helped the team improve to 5-2 on the year.

The final day of play brought with it two more home wins for the Orange and Blue, as the men concluded their own invitational with a perfect record and improved to 7-2 on the year. The day began with a closer match than fans had seen their hometown team compete in, as the Toronto Varsity Blues proved to be a good test. It was the 100th game played in Kinney Natatorium and it helped the Bison improve their facility record to 69-31. Nine different men scored for the Bison, and although the score seemed close, the Bison were ahead or tied with Toronto for all but two minutes of the game. Djordjevic led the offense with three goals and two assists. Hunter, Aleksic, and Hagen also had two goals in the high-scoring victory.

The weekend was closed with a 20-8 win over Washington & Jefferson. Getting out of the gates quickly again, the Bison scored three goals in the first two minutes of play and eight in the first quarter. The game was all but over by the third quarter, when the Bison’s lead swelled to 10. Four Bison goals came on penalty shots and 11 men found the back of the net. Most impressively, Aleksic scored five goals in the first 20-goal game for the Bison since 2012. Niehaus and McKenzie each played one half, and notched five and three saves respectively. Other multi-goal performances came from Hagen, Borna Bolanca ’19, Jedd Thayer ’16, and Tommy Stupp ’18. Sean Daley ’17 also had four assists.

The Bison will hope to stay hot on the road against George Washington and Johns Hopkins on Sept. 26.

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