ERIE, Pa. — Drago Marjanovic (So., Belgrade, Serbia/North Allegheny (Pa.)) collected a steal near half tank and lobbed home a shot with three seconds left in the second three-minute overtime period as Gannon University completed a perfect 9-0 mark in the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC)-West Region by taking down McKendree University, 15-14, in overtime at the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center.
Now a two-time MAWPC-West Champion following a previous title in 2016, the Golden Knights rallied back from a 14-13 deficit at the end of the first OT frame with a pair of markers in the second OT to dethrone the 2018 MAWPC-West Region Champion Bearcats of McKendree University.
Courtesy the win, Gannon earns a spot in the 2019 MAWPC Championship set for Friday-Sunday, November 22-24, at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium against the host Bison, the United States Naval Academy, La Salle University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, La Salle University and Wagner College. The victor of the MAWPC Championship earns the league’s automatic berth to the 2019 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship.
Gannon, which wraps-up the MAWPC-West season with a perfect 8-0 mark after going 6-0 during the regular season prior to downing Mercyhurst University (12-6 W) in the semifinals before meeting McKendree for the title, received seven goals from Marjanovic who earned Player of the Game recognition for his efforts.
The game appeared destined for overtime and last second heroics as neither squad was able to build a lead larger than three goals throughout the contest’s duration of 38 minutes.
Tied three-all and six-all at the conclusion of the first and second quarters, the squads appeared to separate in the third quarter as Gannon pulled out to a 12-9 lead.
Marjanovic started the Golden Knights’ run by swishing a man-up opportunity at 6:57 prior to Thomas Squeglia (Sr., Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) sweeping in a natural marker at 5:30 to push Gannon out to an 8-6 lead. Ben Brauer (Jr., Duisburg, Germany/Steinbart-Gymnasium Duisburg) chipped McKendree’s deficit back to one at 8-7 via a man-up strike at 5:02 prior to Jack Donnelly (Sr., Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) responding for Gannon with a five-meter penalty shot at 3:51.
The pattern repeated itself as Izaya Owotor (Sr., Portland, Ore./David Douglas) zipped in a shot at 2:44 to move McKendree back within a tally at 9-8, but Ethan Hamp (Jr, Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) inflated Gannon’s margin to 11-8 by denting the cage with blasts at 1:18 and 38 seconds. Both squads found the back of the cage one final time in the third quarter as Andrew Serrano (Jr., Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King) and Marjanovic put away natural markers at 22 and 10 seconds, respectively, as Gannon entered the final eight minutes of regulation with a 12-9 margin on the scoreboard.
Gannon’s offense stagnated in the fourth quarter, while the Bearcats found new life, as Matthew Haygood (So., Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills) rifled in even-strength shots at 3:21 and 54 seconds to bookend a power-play conversion by Pedro Osorio (Jr., San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) at 2:21 to square the teams at 12-all and bring on overtime.
The Golden Knights found their mojo exactly one minute into extra-time as Squeglia tossed in a go-ahead score with two minutes on the clock. Adrian Maher (Jr., Keller, Texas/Keller) and Haygood turned the tables on Gannon prior to the close of the frame as the duo deposited balls to the back of the cage at 1:31 and one second, respectively, to give McKendree its first lead since a 4-3 margin with 6:58 left in the second quarter.
On the ropes going into the second OT, Gannon turned to Donnelly as the senior netted the equalizer at 2:28 to set the stage for a potential bout of sudden death overtime. But it was Marjanovic who broke the Bearcats as he beat Bearcats’ goalie Ori Scanlon (Jr., Orlando, Fla./Olympia) with three seconds left for the knockout punch to give Gannon the MAWPC-West Championship.
For the Golden Knights, Marjanovic (seven), Squeglia (two), Hamp (two) and Donnelly (two) all registered multi-goal games with Robert Bolmanski (So., Erie, Pa./McDowell) and Riley Hinkley (Sr., Meshoppen, Pa./Princeton) notching single markers in the first quarter. In cage, Jacob Hollo (Fr., Pittsburgh,Pa./North Allegheny) stopped 22 shots to pick-up the win.
On the other side of the tank, Haygood (three), Aaron Jacobs (So., Houston, Texas/Jersey Village) (two), Osorio (two), Maher (two) and Joseph Mahan (Sr., Corinth, Texas/John H Guyer) (two) notched multiple scores with Owotor, Serrano and Brauer accounting for the remainder of the Bearcats’ offense. Scanlon made 15 saves in taking the loss as McKendree recorded its inaugural runner-up finish after previously placing First (2018) and Fifth (2017) in the institution’s two prior appearances at the MAWPC-West Championship.
Following the conclusion of the title game, the 2019 MAWPC-West Championship All-Tournament Team was announced:
|2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Championship|
|Most Valuable Player:||Milos Popovic (Salem University)|
|Rookie of the Tournament:||Jacob Hollo (Gannon University)|
|Coach of the Tournament:||Curtis Robinette (Mercyhurst University)|
|Jacob Hollo (Goalie)||Gannon University|
|Drago Marjanovic||Gannon University|
|Jack Donnelly||Gannon University|
|Matthew Haygood||McKendree University|
|Joseph Mahan||McKendree University|
|Daniel Alvarez||Mercyhurst University|
|Milos Popovic||Salem University|
|Julen Alonso (Goalie)||Salem University|
|Michael Rojas||Salem University|
|Arturo Freitas||Connecticut College|
|Anthony Squeglia||Gannon University|
|Alex Cappuccio||Mercyhurst University|
|Jared Hankinson||Monmouth College|
|Will Kitsch||Washington & Jefferson College|
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q||OT1||OT2||–||FINAL|
|Gannon Goals:||Drago Marjanovic (7); Thomas Squeglia (2); Ethan Hamp (2); Jack Donnelly (2); Robert Bolmanski; Riley Hinkley|
|McKendree Goals:||Matthew Haygood (3); Aaron Jacobs (2); Pedro Osorio (2); Adrian Maher (2); Joseph Mahan (2); Ben Brauer; Izaya Owotor; Andrew Serrano|
|Saves:||Gannon – Jacob Hollo (22) ; McKendree – Ori Scanlon (15)|
|Exclusions:||Gannon – 11 ; McKendree – 16|
|Advantage Opportunities:||Gannon – 6-for-16 ; McKendree – 4-for-11|
|Sprints:||Gannon – 2-for-6 (1st, 4th) ; McKendree – 4-for-6 (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th)|
|Cards/Misconducts:||Gannon – YC (Drago Marjanovic, 1:31 left in 1st OT) ; McKendree – YC (Head coach Colleen Lischwe, 51 seconds left in 2nd Q), YC (Ori Scanlon, halftime)|
|Officials:||Hadi Farid; Igor Mernenko|
Gannon University’s Thomas Squeglia (#13) disarms McKendree University’s Joseph Mahan (#7)
Gannon University’s Drago Marjanovic (#18) rises to shoot as McKendree University’s Ben Brauer (#5) pursues
McKendree University’s Izaya Owotor (#2) tries to line a shot over Gannon University’s Anthony Squeglia (#9)
2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Championship Rookie of the Tournament: Jacob Hollo (Gannon University)
2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Championship & Regular Season Most Valuable Player: Milos Popovic (Salem University)
2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Third Place – Salem University
2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Runner-Up – McKendree University
2019 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference-West Region Champion – Gannon University