ERIE, Pa. — Ryan Bannon (Fr., Bloomfield, Colo./Bloomfied) closed out his freshman water polo season in style as the first-year found the back of the cage with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter for the deciding blow as Washington & Jefferson College downed Connecticut College, 9-8, to clinch Fifth Place at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC)-West Region Championship.
Competing at the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center, the Presidents and Camels slugged it out from the first whistle to the final horn in the deciding game for Fifth Place in the seven-team championship. W&J – which fell to Salem University (22-8 L) on Saturday, November 9, prior to upending Monmouth College (8-7 W) in the opening game on Sunday, November 10 – equals its all-time best finish at the MAWPC-West Championship as the team previously placed Fifth (2016, seven teams), Eighth (2017, eight teams) and Sixth (2018, seven teams).
Trailing 8-6 at the conclusion of the third quarter, the Presidents climbed back into the game in short order during the dawning moments of the fourth quarter. Tyler Francis (Jr., Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) and Bannon did the deed for Washington & Jefferson as the duo deposited back-to-back dimes at 7:47 and 6:59, respectively, to deadlock the squads at eight-all.
Neither team was able to break the goal-line again until Bannon’s deciding blow with 2:55 on the clock.
Connecticut had its chances down the stretch, but the Presidents and Camels’ defenses both stiffened to stymie their foes over the final two and a half minutes to make the lead stand up.
The game appeared destined to be a run-away win for Connecticut in the early going as Arturo Freitas (Sr., Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay) and Christian Jacobsen (Fr.) fired in shots with 4:09 and 20 seconds on the first quarter clock to stake the Camels to a 2-0 margin after the first eight minutes.
Sam Guy (Fr., Portland, Ore./Lincoln) padded the margin to 3-0 with 6:44 remaining in the second quarter before W&J commenced a comeback bid.
Andrew Edwards (Fr., Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) lined in a natural tally at 5:52 and put away a five-meter penalty shot at 3:43 to shave the Presidents’ deficit down to 3-2.
Connecticut responded to Edwards’ pair with one of their own as Rahul Gill (Sr., Bethesda, Md./Landon School) (3:12, man-up) and Mike Gertsik (So., Brooklyn, N.Y./Leon M. Goldstein) (2:38, even-strength) cushioned the Camels’ margin to 5-2.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Francis (1:11, man-up), Ian Geister (Sr., Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) (42 seconds, even-strength) and Cam Spicer (So., Lansing, Mich./East Lansing) (19 seconds, even-strength) ripped off a three-goal run to square the teams at five-all by halftime.
W&J went ahead for the first time with 4:53 left in the third quarter as Geister put away a natural tally to make it 6-5.
However, the lead met the same end as Connecticut’s second quarter advantage – a quick death – as Guy (1:41), Tim Beloborodov (Sr., Moscow, Russia/Wilbraham and Monson Academy) (1:11) and Freitas (34 seconds) torched W&J for three consecutive strikes to make it 8-6 and set-up the Presidents victory run over the final eight minutes.
W&J – which avenges a 19-11 regular season road loss to Connecticut on October 19 – received pairs of goals from Francis, Bannon, Edwards and Geister along with a single score by Spicer. In cage, Nick Spehar (Sr., Perkasie, Pa./Pennridge) stopped 17 shots to earn the win.
Guy and Freitas keyed the Connecticut offense with pair of goals. Gertsik, Jacobsen, Beloborodov and Gill each chipped in solo tallies in support of a 14 save effort from netminder Tanner Michaelis (Jr., Ramona, Calif./Ramona).
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q||–||FINAL|
|Washington & Jefferson College||0||5||1||3||–||9|
|Connecticut Goals:||Sam Guy (2); Arturo Freitas (2); Mike Gertsik; Christian Jacobsen; Tim Beloborodov; Rahul Gill|
|W&J Goals:||Tyler Francis (2); Ryan Bannon (2); Andrew Edwards (2); Ian Geister (2); Cam Spicer|
|Saves:||Connecticut -Tanner Michaelis (14) ; W&J – Nick Spehar (17)|
|Exclusions:||Connecticut – 8 ; W&J – 10|
|Advantage Opportunities:||Connecticut – 1-for-10 ; W&J – 2-for-8|
|Sprints:||Connecticut – 2-for-4 (2nd, 3rd) ; W&J – 2-for-4 (1st, 4th)|
|Cards/Misconducts:||W&J – YC (Head coach Nikola Malezanov, 4:09 left in 1st Q), YC (Sam Guy, 1:41 left in 3rd Q)|
|Officials:||Brandon Nicholson; Igor Mernenko|
Connecticut College’s Lucas Verrilli (#5) defends Washington & Jefferson College’s Jason Wright (#6)
Connecticut College’s Mike Gertsik (#12) gets checked by Washington & Jefferson College’s Anthony Ames (#15)
Washington & Jefferson College’s Will Kitsch (#2) tries to split the defense against Connecticut College