ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy water polo team met in Berkeley, Calif., and trained with the Cal team for two days before competing in the USA Water Polo Men's Nationals Aug. 2-5 in Moraga, Calif. All 26 returning players represented the Naval Academy Aquatic Club, half on the A team and half on the B team. Both clubs found the early games to be a bit of a challenge, particularly with many of the Mids coming off summer cruises and other USNA training. The A team tied Lamorinda B (Cal's 2nd team) 6-6, lost to Waves (Pepperdine) 10-9, and Trojan (USC) 13-3, while the B's were defeated by Sunset (UCSD) 20-6, eventual Champion NYAC 19-6 and the Univ. of the Pacific, 14-10.
These results placed both teams in the 13-16th place group on Saturday. The A's defeated New Zealand 12-7, while the B's handled Santa Barbara B 12-9, setting up an all-Navy matchup for 13th place, with the A's prevailing 15-7.
"We were off and on in this tournament. This can certainly be, to some extent, contributed to squad splitting into A and B group, but for the most part it was the result of summer spent apart and just reforming as a team," said assistant coach Mladen Stanicic, who traveled with the team. "Occasionally, I saw some very encouraging moments with both groups. We will work on making those moments the standard for the season."
"It was good for the team to be together again," said senior captain George Naughton. "While we would have liked to have won all our games, our top priority was to get in shape for the fall season. It took some time to get comfortable playing together again, but we had steady improvement the whole trip."
The Mids caught a flight to Honolulu on Aug. 6, and resumed training a day later, getting in a beach workout in the morning followed by two hours in the pool during the afternoon.
The 37th Annual Hawaiian Invitational kicked off on Aug. 8, with the Mids again split into A and B squads. Both teams got off on a winning note, the B's defeating Ferals (Australia) 6-3, and the A's defeating SNB Breakers 11-2. The second day saw the A's win twice over Falcons and the B's defeating Paumalu B (Hawaii). The third day was a good one for the A's, defeating Paumalu A 14-2, while the B's ended up on the short end of a 7-3 loss to Hawaiian Islands, the eventual tournament runner-up. The fourth day resulted in another loss for the B's, 9-5 to eventual Champion Olympic Club (San Francisco) while the A's, benfitting from being in the weaker bracket, defeated Oahu 14-3. These results placed the A's as the top-seeded team in Bracket A, while the B's ended up the third seed in Bracket B and a chance to earn fifth place with a win over SNB breakers, which they accomplished, 6-3.
The A's matched up with Hawaiian Islands in the semifinal, falling in a very low scoring game, 3-1. The team did bounce back and win the third-place game on Sunday, defeating Paumalu, 12-9.
"Things were already better in Hawaii. Both teams had respectable showings, with the B team taking 5th place (out of ten) and A team earning third," said Stanicic. "Both teams could have done even better, in my opinion. Important losses to both Navy teams came from Hawaii, a very experienced team led by former Olympian and Navy Aquatic Club standout Brad Schumacher. Both of our groups competed against Hawaii, but allowed the opponent to slow down the pace and thus take away our advantages - speed, mobility and endurance."
"The entire team played well in Hawaii after getting the rust off in California," added Naughton. "Our team play and fitness were much better, and the results reflected this. We have a good idea of where we stand as a team now and what we need to do to get ready for the season."
The Mids will return to Annapolis Aug. 15, and continue preparing for the fall season, along with 14 freshmen, who have been putting the finishing touches on "Plebe Summer".
Navy will open up the 2007 season by hosting the 24-team Navy Labor Day Open on Sept. 1-2. The Mids will open up with a Saturday contest against seventh-ranked Pacific at 10:20 am, and then take on defending NCAA Champion California at 7:40 pm. Both contests will be in Lejeune Hall.
Release courtesy Navy Athletic Communications