BRONX, N.Y. – Fordham University water polo head coach Brian Bacharach and associate head coach Bill Harris announced the addition of seven new players for the 2023 season. Joining the team will be Paul Armingol (Aix en Provence, France/Lycée Emile Zola (St. Francis Brooklyn)), Finn Byrne (Atherton, Calif./Menlo School), Christian Gotterup (Lafayette, Calif./Acalanes), Christopher Gray (Johannesburg, South Africa/St. John’s College), Gabriel Guinane (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./Jserra Catholic), Barnabás Eppel (Budapest, Hungary/Budenz József Alapítványi Gimnázium) and Reid Thorson (Lafayette, Calif./Campolindo).
“I am excited to get this group of recruits to Rose Hill,” said Bacharach. “We had a strong off-season as a program. However, one of the clear pieces missing was depth. If one person went down with either injury, sickness or anything, it seemed to have a domino effect on the whole group. This group of recruits solves that problem, adding talented depth at every position. This recruiting class helps us take one step closer to our goal every season: earning the right to play NCAA games in December.”
A 6-0 attacker, Armingol is a transfer from St. Francis Brooklyn, where he netted over 80 goals the last two seasons with the Terriers, helping the team to the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) Championship match in each of those seasons. Prior to his time in Brooklyn, he competed in the French National Championships, winning it four times during summer club play as well as winning the French southern selection championships two times. Armingol also spent time playing for the French National Team, competing in several tournaments for the French Team as well as earning a cap at the 2019 European Championship.
Bacharach on Armingol: “We could not be more excited that Paul will be joining us, even if it is the result of a very sad situation that took place with our former cross-town rival at St. Francis Brooklyn. We have seen Paul and his St. Francis team have great games against us several times over the last 2 years. We are excited to add another dimension to our lefty side of the pool, and Paul brings a great shot and speed to our line up.”
A 6-2 goalkeeper, Byrne joins his brothers Aidan (University of California-Irvine) and Liam (Pomona-Pitzer Colleges) as National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) goalkeepers. He attended the Menlo School the last two seasons, where he served as team captain as a senior and earned All-WCAL Honorable Mention honors. Additionally, he played for the Stanford Water Polo Club, which took part in last year’s Junior Olympics, finishing 17th in the country. Since 2019, Byrne has been a part of ODP NEZ and PAC Blue, earning Outstanding Academic All-American honors in 2021 and 2022, while attending the USA Water Polo Academy in 2023.
Bacharach on Byrne: “Finn comes to us having learned under the great Northern California coach and goalie guru, Jack Bowen, during his time at The Menlo School, earning all-league honors. He has also spent many years playing with one of top youth programs in the country in the Stanford Water Polo Club. This will make his transition to the collegiate level that much easier, having played with and against the top shooters in the country. We are happy Finn decided to join us in the Bronx.”
Gray, a 6-1 utility player, attended St. John’s College in South Africa, winning gold medals in water polo at a number of tournaments, including the South African age group national championship in 2022. He captured a gold medal at the 2021 U17 EU Nations tournament, as well as at the 2022 SACS National Tournament and KES National Tournament. In addition to water polo, he served as vice-captain of the swim team.
Bacharach on Gray: “We are excited that Chris decided to join us in the Bronx. He has a natural ability to find openings in a defense and exploit them to his advantage. Additionally, he has a knack for winning. His teams have been extremely successful in South Africa, topped off with a great win this past summer at the South African age group national championships. We expect that he will continue to bring this winning mentality to his time at Fordham.”
Eppel, a 6-3 utility player, attended Budenz József Alapítványi Gimnázium in Budapest, Hungary, and grew up playing for the prestigious club program at UVSE. He helped his team to a first-place finish at the U19 Hungarian National Championship and the U22 Komjádi Kupa, which is the highest junior age group tournament in Hungary. Eppel spent a summer playing in the USA alongside current Ram goalie, Thomas Lercari, finishing 12th in the Platinum Division of the Junior Olympics, the highest finish at JO’s in their club’s history. Additionally, Eppel has been a member of the Hungarian national team system. His team earned a third-place finish at the U17 Youth European Championship.
Bacharach on Eppel: “Barnabás is a unique recruit for us in many ways. He has a long history of playing with and against many current Rams. I am confident that his transition to our team and system will be quicker than the typical incoming freshman. Additionally, he brings a wealth of experience, from his time spent with the national team of Hungary, in the USA, and with a top club team in Hungary. We are excited he decided to spend his next four years at Fordham.”
Gotterup is a 6-0 attacker/utility player and four-year water polo player at Acalanes High School. He was a two-time Diablo Athletic League First Team selection in 2021 and 2022. He was also a part of the team’s 2019 NCS Division I Championship and was recipient of the 2022 Acalanes Heaston Award. For club, Gotterup is a part of Contra Costa United with fellow Fordham recruit Reid Thorson. In the classroom, he was an All-Academic selection, a North Coast Section/CIF Scholar Athlete and a member of the North Coast Section CIF Distinguished Scholastic Team.
Bacharach on Gotterup: “Christian is an explosive driver with a powerful shot. He is a kid that you immediately notice in the pool because he is always making something positive happen for his team. He has also grown up in the CCU club system, allowing him to play with and against some of the top players in the country. We are excited Christian decided to join us and believe he will have a great career here at Fordham.”
A 6-0 attacker, Guinane was a four-year varsity water polo player at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. He helped the team win the CIF Championship during his freshman campaign. For club, he plays for Mission/OCWPC, who finished third in the Junior Olympics in 2022.
Bacharach on Guinane: “Gabe was a starting member of one of the top teams in the country last summer with Mission Water Polo Club. A season ending injury caused him to miss most of his senior season with JSerra. Fortunately for us, I had had the chance to see him play many times before his senior year and was always impressed with his incredible court vision. Playing with many talented athletes around him at JSerra and Mission, it felt like the ball was always going through his hand first before finding the back of the net. Gabe will be another instrumental contributor on the lefty side of the pool.”
Thorson, a 6-6 center, was a varsity water polo standout at Camplindo High School in Moraga, California for two seasons. He was a 2022 First Team All-Conference and CIF NorCal All-Star selection, while being a two-time Academic All-American and Scholar-Athlete (2021 & 2022). He played club water polo for Contra Costa United with fellow Fordham recruit Christian Gotterup and was a three-time ODP Pacific Team member.
Bacharach on Thorson: “We are excited that Reid decided to come East for college. He has a huge frame that is only going to continue to develop as he gets older. He is also strong and has good moves out of the center position. He had a standout senior season at Campolindo, one of the traditional powerhouses of Northern California. We expect that his development as a player will only continue to grow as he makes the transition to the college level.”
Release courtesy Fordham University Athletics Communications