PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Zach Churukian (Fr., Menlo Park, Calif./Sacred Heart Prep) scored four times, including the winning tally with 4:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, to claim Player of the Game honors as the Division III No. 8-ranked Engineers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stunned Mercyhurst University, 10-9, in the opening round of the 2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Championship at Brown University's Katherine Moran Aquatics Center.
Courtesy the win, MIT advances to take on the No. 16-ranked Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy at 4:40 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the tournament, while Mercyhurst will next compete at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, against the fallen from a first round game between No. 18 Princeton University versus Iona College.
In the first meeting of the year between MIT (13-14) and Mercyhurst (18-7), the game was a story of halves as Mercyhurst built a 7-5 lead by halftime, but MIT engineered a comeback with a 3-0 scoring advantage in the third quarter prior to keeping pace with the Lakers at 2-2 in the fourth quarter for the one-goal victory.
Tied 2-2 at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Lakers pulled away from MIT in the second quarter thanks to back-to-back-to-back goals by Brett Luehmann (Sr., Ancaster, Ontario/Ancaster) as the Canadian star notched scores off a five-meter penalty shot (7:09), at even-strength (5:18) and off a six-on-five opportunity (4:43) to place the Lakers in front 5-2.
MIT chopped the margin back to a single goal by the 2:24 mark of the quarter as Churukian beat Lakers' goalie Matt Cote (Sr., Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge) with 3:26 and 2:24 on the clock to shrink the lead down to 5-4.
However, Dave Matulis (So., Loveland, Ohio/Milford) and Issac Ogloblin (Sr., Madrid, Spain/I.E.S Cervantes) scored with 1:18 an 14 seconds on the clock, respectively, to sandwich a strike by MIT's Jack Clark (Jr., Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach) with 33 seconds remaining in the first half to make it 7-5 in favor of the Lakers' at the break.
The lead lasted until slightly past the midway point of the third quarter as Churukian put away an even-strength chance at the 4:21 mark and Kyle Bowman (Jr., Millbrae, Calif./Menlo) converted on a six-on-five opportunity at the 3:48 mark following the exclusion of Mercyhurst's Rob Clinger (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) at 4:04 to knot the score at seven-all.
MIT acquired its first lead of the contest 45 seconds later when Michael Farid (Sr., Dubai, United Arab Emirates/Dubai College) whizzed a rocket past Cote with 3:03 on the clock to make it 8-7 in favor of the Engineers.
Neither team was able to find the back of the cage again until Garret Schoeman (Sr., Riverside, Calif./Arlington) put away a five-meter penalty shot with 5:55 left in the fourth quarter to make it eight-all.
Facing the possibility of the Lakers rallying for a win, Northern Division fourth place finisher MIT went to work in finishing off the upset of Southern Division fourth place finisher Mercyhurst.
Farid set up the final nail as he whipped in a marker at 5:35 with the teams at even-strength to put the Engineers back in front at 9-8, before Churukian drove it home at 4:16 with a man-up strike following the exclusion of Ogloblin at 4:33 to put MIT ahead 10-8.
Mercyhurst managed to slice its deficit down to one with 1:01 to go as Luehmann registered his fifth score, and third man-up score, to move the Lakers with 10-9.
However, the MIT defense stiffened in front of goalie Nolan Kruse (Fr., Orcutt, Calif./St. Joseph) as the first-year netminder notched his fourth save of the quarter and 10th of the game to guarantee the win and set-up a date with the Midshipmen of Navy in the quaterfinals.
Overall, Craig Cheney (Sr., Sherwood, Ore./Newberg), who accounted for both of MIT's goals in the first quarter with cage-rattlers at 3:46 and 27 seconds to tie the game at one-all and two-all after prior Lakers' strikes, joined Farid in registering pairs of goals for the Engineers. Clark and Bowman accounted for MIT's other scores as the Engineers are guaranteed to finish no lower than eighth in the 12-team championship field.
A nine-team CWPA Championship qualifier, the Engineers will aim to stun No. 16 Navy and improve on its all-time best finish at the event as MIT previously finished eighth (2004, 2012), seventh (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010) and sixth (2003, 2010) in its prior trips to the then eight-team league championship tournament.
Further, the win improves MIT to 5-17 all-time at the league championship tournament as the Engineers previously defeated Iona College (9-8 W, 2009; 10-9 W, 2008), Fordham University (7-6 W, 2010) and Bucknell University (9-6 W, 2003).
For Mercyhurst, Danilo Svorcan (Sr., Belgrade, Serbia/15th Brigade), Matulis, Schoeman and Ogloblin each tacked on solo goals to join Luehmann in accounting for all of the Lakers' offense. In the cage, Cote notched a game-high 14 saves in suffering the loss.
|Division III No. 8 Massachusetts Institute of
Brett Luehmann (5); Danilo Svorcan; Dave Matulis; Garret Schoeman;
MIT Goals: Zach Churukian (4); Craig Cheney (2); Michael Farid (2); Jack Clark; Kyle Bowman
Saves: Mercyhurst - Matt Cote (14) ; MIT - Nolan Kruse (10)
Exclusions: Mercyhurst - 5 ; MIT - 8
Advantage Opportunities: Mercyhurst - 5-for-8 ; MIT - 2-for-5
Sprints: Mercyhurst - 2-for-4 (1st, 2nd) ; MIT - 2-for-4 (3rd, 4th)
Officials: Josh Kratz, Humberto Navarro
The Massachusetts Institute
of Technology's Craig Cheney looks to shoot in the first quarter
versus Mercyhurst University