Men’s water polo impresses in opening tournament

Patrick Dempsey, Sports Co-Editor

The No. 20 Bison men’s water polo team kicked off their season on a high note, going 4-1 in the Bruno Classic in Providence, R.I. Over the course of the two-day tournament held from Sept. 1-2, the Bison maintained a high standard of performance against stiff competition.

In their first match against MIT on Sept. 1, the Orange and Blue rode the hot hand of Rade Joksimovic ’20 to a 13-9 win. Joksimovic recorded a team-high of nine goals in the opener. Timely scoring for the Bison played a crucial role as the game entered the fourth quarter deadlocked at 8-8, but a 5-1 fourth quarter clinched the victory.

Showing no signs of fatigue, the Bison quickly bounced back to play Austin College later that day, rolling to an 18-7 win. Seven Bison enjoyed multi-goal outings, with Joksimovic picking up a hat trick. Jack Otto ’22 turned away 12 shots in the cage, immediately making an impact in his first weekend of collegiate play.

“The freshmen have contributed tremendously to our team, not only with their play but with their personalities as well,” Joksimovic said.

In their third performance of the day, the Bison knocked off host and No. 15 Brown University 14-7. Joksimovic put in six more goals, increasing his tally to 18 total for the day.  Jared Stanley ’21 also netted six goals, a career high for him. Entering the second period tied at 2, the Bison took advantage of a man-up tally that then started a 5-0 run in their favor. The team did not look back from there and finished with a resounding victory.

The two matches on Sept. 2 included two more ranked opponents. The Bison first faced off against No. 19 St. Francis Brooklyn. The first half was back and forth and it was not until the third quarter that the Bison were able to establish a lead that they ended up holding on to for the 9-6 victory. Cooper Dolan ’20, Jack Lewis ’22, and Matt Blackwell ’21 all had multi-point outings.

The Bison could not cap the Bruno Classic with a weekend sweep, dropping a game to No. 8 Pepperdine 12-11. The Orange and Blue jumped out to a fast start, leading the game 4-3 after the first period. A second quarter that saw three goals by Pepperdine and none by the Bison made it hard for a comeback. The Bison got within one in the fourth quarter, but the deficit became insurmountable.

“This weekend served as some kind of a first exam, where we were trying to execute things we have worked on for the past few weeks, but it also served as a means to collect film so we can learn from our mistakes,” Joksimovic said. “We intend to improve our overall mindset, with the focus on defense while also trying to perfect our offense; it will be hard but those are the goals.”

The Bison will next take to the pool when they host the Bucknell Invitational from Sept. 15-16, facing La Salle, Washington & Jefferson, Fordham, and Salem International.

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