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NEW LONDON, Conn. — Senior Jayden Kunwar scored a five-meter penalty shot in sudden death/victory overtime to lift the Division III No. 10-ranked Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins University to an 11-10 overtime win versus top-seeded/Division III No. 8 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Connecticut College’s Lott Natatorium in title game of the 2021 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Eastern Championship.

Due to qualifying for the Division III Eastern Championship title game, both Johns Hopkins and MIT punched their tickets to the 2021 USA Water Polo Division III Championship versus the top-two finishing teams in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).  Slated for December 4-5 at the highest seeded SCIAC participant, it will mark the second USA Water Polo Division III Championship following the 2019 event hosted and claimed by Whittier College.  Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, MIT and Johns Hopkins placed second, third and fourth in the inaugural event which occurred on December 7-8 in Whittier, Calif.

In a back-and-forth contest which saw both teams possess chances to outdistance their foe, Hopkins jumped out to a two-goal lead on goals by Kunwar and junior Chris Freese, but MIT answered with three of its own to take a 3-2 lead after one quarter.

Senior Emerson Sullivan scored 21 seconds into the second quarter to tie the game at three-all, but the Engineers received back-to-back goals from Miller Geschke and Kaden DiMarco to go up 5-3 with 5:25 to play in the first half.

Sullivan scored just over two minutes later to spark a three-goal Blue Jays’ run that saw JHU take a 6-5 lead into intermission.

The teams traded goals over the first 2:06 of the third quarter as Hopkins held an 8-7 lead.  Jack King and Geschke scored a pair of goals in the final 2:36 to grab the lead for the Engineers heading into the fourth quarter.

JHU’s title hopes grew dimmer as Kyle Sandell scored 20 seconds into the fourth quarter to stake MIT to a 10-8 lead. Sullivan answered the bell, however, to score and back the Blue Jays back to within one at 10-9.  He delivered blow with 2:03 left in regulation by cashing in on a man-up chance to knot the score at 10-all and force overtime.

The Blue Jays and Engineers held each other scoreless through two overtime periods to bring on sudden victory.

It took Hopkins 25 seconds into the first sudden death period to draw a five-meter and provide Kunwar a chance to play hero. He lined in the penalty shot to give the Blue Jays the title.

Sullivan finished with a game-high four goals to go with two steals and a block as he is now tied for 22nd in school history with 177 career points and is 19th with 144 career goals.. Kunwar notched five points (three goals, two assists), drew three ejections and had two steals.

Jake Pearson totaled two points (one goal, one assist), three steals and a drawn ejection. He now ranks 18th in JHU history with 90 career steals. Junior Kamran Eslami and sophomore Cameron Burns tallied two points and two assists each.

In cage, Kyle Pearson made 11 saves and also had three steals to anchor a JHU defense which held MIT in check down the stretch to force overtime and claim the victory in extra-time.

In the history of the Division III Eastern tournament, Hopkins now holds 19 Division III crowns (1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021) in 28 title games with losses in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2010, 2014 and 2018.  Hopkins did not compete in two Division III Championships as the Blue Jays’ missed the championship game in 2007 and 2016 by not attending the event. MIT is a nine-time champion MIT (1991, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018) as the duo stand as the only active Division III programs to hold a Division III Eastern crown. Overall, former varsity team Washington & Lee University defeated Johns Hopkins in 1992 and 1993 in the second and third Division III tournament for the only titles not held by either the Blue Jays or Engineers.

Hopkins, which improves to 31-12 all-time against MIT – including 19-7 at the CWPA Division Eastern Championship, now stands at 76-9 all-time in the CWPA DIII Eastern Championship.

For his performance, Sullivan was named the championship Most Valuable Player and head coach Max Schlegel earned Coach of the Tournament honors.

2021 Division III Eastern Championship All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player:
Emerson Sullivan (Johns Hopkins University)
Coach of the Tournament:
Max Schlegel (Johns Hopkins University)
Rookie of the Tournament:
Colin Weaver (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

First Team

  • Kyle Pearson (Goalie – Johns Hopkins University)
  • Jayden Kunwar (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Emerson Sullivan (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Kyle Sandell (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Miller Geschke (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Max Wade (Austin College)
  • Will Kitsch (Washington & Jefferson College)

Second Team

  • Colin Weaver (Goalie – Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • John Steele (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Joseph Addison (Augustana College)
  • Nik Koelzer (Austin College)
  • Christian Jacobsen (Connecticut College)
  • Jake Pearson (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Ryan Kenny (Penn State Behrend)
  • Cam Spicer (Washington & Jefferson College)

Information courtesy Johns Hopkins University Athletics Communications

Collegiate Water Polo Association