ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Division III Eastern Champion/Division III No. 6-ranked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) built a 4-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in coasting to an 11-9 dispatching of Mountain Pacific Spots Federation (MPSF)-Eastern Champion Augustana College in the Vikings’ home pool to claim Third Place at the 2023 USA Water Polo Division III Collegiate Water Polo National Championship.
Competing at Augustana’s Anne Greve Lund Natatorium, the Engineers made the Vikings’ home water their own thanks to a game-high five goals from Adam Ivatorov (So., Rockaway, N.Y./Staten Island Technical) and pairs by Rick Lundh (Fr. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Cathedral Catholic), Evan Kowal (Sr. ,South Pasadena, Calif./South Pasadena) and Matthew Pryce (Fr., Johannesburg, South Africa/St. John’s College) in support of a nine-save performance by goalkeeper Colin Weaver (Sr., Huntington Beach, Calif./Mater Dei).
MIT – which previously took home Third Place in 2019 (20-13 W vs. Johns Hopkins University at Whittier College) and 2022 (9-6 W vs. Johns Hopkins at California Lutheran University) to sandwich a Fourth Place mark in 2021 (11-10 L vs. Johns Hopkins at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges) with the 2020 event not contested due to the COVID-19 pandemic – never trailed in the contest as Pryce dented the twine with a penalty shot (6:35) and Ivatorov cashed in for an even-strength strike off an assist from Bo Tignol (Gr., Antwerp, Belgium/ACS Egham International School) (5:57) in jumping out to a 2-0 lead less than two and a half minutes into the game.
Augustana cut into the Engineers’ lead at the 4:18 mark as Oskar Bannister converted an assist from Rhys Lomax to move the Vikings to within 2-1. However, Tignol found Ivatorov for a tally 18 seconds later (4:00) and Pryce lined in another five-meter penalty shot at 3:04 to push MIT ahead 4-1.
The Vikings shaved their deficit down to a pair at 4-2 prior to the conclusion of the opening eight minutes as Stevan Rasic put away an assist from Zander O’Dwyer with 49 seconds left in the first quarter to inch Augustana back to within striking distance.
The comeback try continued in the early moments of the second quarter as Bannister put away a helper from Alden Brinkmeier 55 seconds into the frame to move Augustana back to within a goal at 4-3. The Vikings pulled even with 5:22 until halftime as Bannister struck again for a man-up tally to deadlock the teams at four-all.
However, Ivatorov answered for MIT at 4:01 by depositing a go-head score to put the Engineers back in front at 5-4 heading into halftime.
The third quarter was the domain of MIT as the Engineers outscored the Vikings 3-0 to pull away.
Following over three minutes of back-and-forth action, Lundh started the run with 4:23 left on the clock by putting away an assist from Jack King (Jr., Los Altos, Calif./Menlo School) to set the scoreboard at 6-4 in favor of MIT. Ivatorov inflicted the remainder of the damage in the third quarter by connecting on shots at 2:17 at 1:34 as the Engineers entered the final eight minutes of regulation with a commanding 8-4 lead.
Augustana attempted to climb back into the game as Mark Addison assisted Joseph Addison 43 seconds into the fourth quarter to move the Vikings back to within three at 8-5. Joseph Addison shrank his team’s deficit to 8-6 with a five-meter penalty tally at 6;54, but Kowal delivered a response at 5:04 via an assist by King to return MIT’s margin to three at 9-6.
Bannister inched Augustana back to within a pair at 9-7 by cashing in an assist fro Lomax, but Pryce found Lundh for an answer at 3:15 to set the scoreboard at 10-7.
Kowal capped off MIT’s scoring with 1:49 to go by burying a man-up chance to widen the chasm between the programs to 11-7 before Joseph Addison (1:43) and Ian Palmroos (19 seconds, man-up) tossed in final tallies for Augustana in the game’s closing moments to decrease the Vikings’ final deficit to 11-9 prior to the buzzer.
For MIT, Ivatorov (five goals), Kowal (two goals), Pryce (two goals, one assist), Lund (two goals), Tignol (two assists) and King (two assists) combined for the Engineers’ offense as the team improves to 3-5 all-time at the USA Water Polo Division III Championship.
2023 USA Water Polo Division III Championship All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player: Aidan Nettekoven (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Donovan Davidon (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Spencer Clinton (University of Redlands)
Roberto Barrera (University of Redlands)
Colin Weaver (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Adam Ivatrov (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Oskar Bannister (Augustana College)