By TARIQ OMER
The Hopkins men’s water polo team won its 16th Collegiate Water Polo Association D-III Championship this Sunday. The Blue Jays travelled to New London, CT where they played second-seeded MIT as the top seed in the championship match.
Hopkins went in with a strong record of 16-8, taking on rival MIT, who entered with a 9-10 record. Hopkins won by a score of 11-9 and captured several individual honors as well; senior co-captain Kevin Yee was named the Tournament MVP, freshmen utility Giorgio Cico was named Rookie of the Tournament and Head Coach Ted Bresnahan was named Most Outstanding Coach.
Junior driver Bret Pinsker, along with his teammates, was ecstatic to win the championship, especially against MIT.
“It’s a good win for us. We always play a close game with them,” Pinsker said. “They’re some of the only other D-III competition we have in the East, so beating them always feels good.”
It was MIT who took the early lead in the title match, as it lead Hopkins 3-1 with 4:49 left to play in the first quarter.
However, Hopkins surged back with back-to-back goals from junior guard Giovanni Cragnotti and senior 2-M defender Garrett Davidson to tie the game up at the end of the first.
“We played them earlier in the season so we knew it was going to be close,” Pinsker said about the flow of the game. “In the first quarter, they went up on us by like three goals but we just kept our confidence up and ended up tying it by the end of the third quarter.”
After the first quarter, the game looked like a very back and forth ordeal. In the second, the MIT Engineers struck first again, with sophomore utility Kyle Archer and senior attacker Ory Tasman scoring to put them up by two.
With 22 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Cragnotti found the back of the net again for his second score of the night, cutting the Jays’ deficit to one goal.
More of the same occurred in the third quarter, as MIT was again first to hit the scoresheet, extending its lead to 6-4 after less than a minute of open play.
However, tournament MVP and the Jays co-captain Kevin Yee pulled one back for the Jays. MIT then scored two of its own, pushing the score to 8-5 in favor of the Engineers.
Cragnotti then scored his third goal of the game, a goal that opened the floodgates for Hopkins, who went on a 5-1 goal-scoring run to end the game 11-9. Hopkins scored the final three goals of the third quarter to level the game at 8-8.
Senior co-captain Langdon Froomer scored 35 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Hopkins their first lead of the game.
Davidson then doubled Hopkins’ advantage with his second goal of the game before MIT Senior utility Kale Rogers cut the lead back to one.
However, Hopkins would seal the match with a late goal from Rookie of the Tournament freshman Giorgio Cico, who scored with 1:27 left in the match.
“It was definitely a good win for us,” Pinsker said. “It always feels good to come out of a tournament with some hardware, but we are seriously focusing on Southerns and Easterns coming up in the next couple of weeks. Those are the biggest tournaments for us and winning against MIT is definitely going to help set us up for a good showing in the post season.”
With this win, Hopkins moves to 16-8 all-time in CWPA D-III Title matches, including a 10-6 record when facing MIT for the championship.
The Jays are now 2-0 this season and 28-9 all-time against the Engineers with Froomer leading the way with six individual points (three goals, three assists) and Cragnotti adding in a hat trick of his own.
Hopkins will travel to Lewisburg, Pa. for the 2015 CWPA Southern Championship on November 6-8.
Pinsker is optimistic looking forward to the championship: “Winning against MIT is a big confidence boost at this point in the season because we will be facing some really good competition at Southerns next weekend, and it will definitely benefit us going in with the right mindset.”