ERIE, Pa. — Goalie Jacob Hollo (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) made his Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC)-West Region Championship debut count by turning aside 13 shots – including six in the first eight minutes – to lead host Gannon University to a 12-6 defeat of crosstown rival Mercyhurst University in the semifinals of the 2019 MAWPC-West Region Championship.
Competing at the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center, the MAWPC-West regular season champion Golden Knights shined from the opening sprint to the closing horn to outscore the Lakers 4-1 in both the first and second quarters prior to trading pairs of offensive blows with Mercyhurst in the third and fourth quarters.
Via the win, Gannon advances to a 1:30 p.m. title tilt showdown on Sunday, November 10, versus either defending MAWPC-West Region Champion McKendree University or Salem University. Gannon – which claimed the 2019 Division II Eastern Championship on October 26-27 at Salem – will aim to add to its trophy collection versus either the Bearcats or Tigers.
The last and only other time the Golden Knights hosted the MAWPC-West Championship in 2017, Gannon cut through the field by downing Washington & Jefferson College (17-2 W) and La Salle University (12-9 W) prior to upending Mercyhurst (15-10 W) for the crown. Historically, Gannon has finished either First (2017) or Third (2016, 2018) in the three prior MAWPC-West Championships.
Taking on Mercyhurst for the fourth time in 2019 with previous victories on October 12 (15-9 W) in league action and September 7 (19-8 W) and October 26 (16-14 W OT) outside the MAWPC-West confines, Gannon jumped on the Lakers early as Riley Hinkley (Sr., Meshoppen, Pa./Princeton) and Jack Donnelly (Sr., Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) lined in shots at 4:40 and 2:41 of the first quarter, respectively, to provide the Golden Knights a lead they refused to relinquish.
Ryan Witoslawski (Sr., Harleysville, Pa./Souderton) cut Mercyhurst’s deficit in half at 1:48, but a five-meter penalty shot by Thomas Squeglia (Sr., Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) at 1:26 followed by a natural goal from Drajo Marjanovic (So., Belgrade, Serbia/North Allegheny) began to break the Lakers in building Gannon’s lead to 4-1 at the conclusion of the opening frame.
Donnelly helped put the game out of reach in the dawning moments of the second quarter as he drilled in shots at 6:52 and 4:05 to sandwich a marker by Anthony Squeglia (Jr., Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) at 5:27 to make it 7-1.
Mercyhurst broke-up Gannon’s five-goal scoring spurt at 2:08 as Witoslawski beat Hollo, but a man-up strike from Marjanovic with 35 seconds until halftime staggered the Lakers and gave the Golden Knights an 8-2 margin at the break.
Daniel Alvarez (Sr., Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) inched Mercyhurst – which hosted the 2016 and 2018 MAWPC-West Championships at the Hallman Center – back within five (8-3) via a five-meter penalty shot with 5:46 to go in the third quarter.
However, Alvarez’s strike stirred Gannon’s army of scorers as the Golden Knights slashed and splashed through the water for back-to-back scores by Hinkley (5:35) and John Vieira (So., Erie, Pa./Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy (McDowell)) (3:25) to enlarge the lead to 10-3.
Mercyhurst attempted to stage a comeback as Alex Cappuccio (Sr., Havre de Grace, Md./Calvert Hall) closed the third quarter with a tally at 2:58 before Mathieu Davis (So., Montego Bay, Jamaica/Wolmer’s Boys’ School) broke the seal on the fourth quarter’s scoring at 7:28 to close the Lakers within 10-5 of the Golden Knights.
Vieira (5:09) and Marty Kaverman (Fr., Erie, Pa./McDowell) (2:08) put to rest any doubts of the eventual outcome as the pair of hometown athletes tacked on insurance goals to make it 12-5 prior to Derek Kagen (Fr., San Diego, Calif./Clairemont) wrapping up the offense by burying a Lakers’ man-up opportunity for the 12-6 final.
For Gannon, Donnelly (three), Vieira (two), Marjanovic (two) and Hinkley (two) all found the back of the cage multiple times. Thomas Squeglia, Anthony Squeglia and Kaverman accounted for the remainder of the Golden Knights’ offense with single goals.
Mercyhurst – which will take on the loser of Salem-Mckendree at 10:30 a.m. on November 10 for Third Place – received a pair of markers from Witoslawski along with single scores by Davis, Alvarez, Cappuccio and Kagen. Nash Greeven (So., Vista, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) suffered the loss between the pipes with 10 saves.
The inaugural/2016 MAWPC-West Champion, the Lakers are guaranteed to record their fourth Top Four finish at the event following Second (2017) and Fourth (2018) Place marks the previous two seasons.
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q||–||FINAL|
|Gannon Goals:||Jack Donnelly (3); John Vieira (2); Drago Marjanovic (2); Riley Hinkley (2); Thomas Squeglia; Anthony Squeglia; Marty Kaverman|
|Mercyhurst Goals:||Ryan Witoslawski (2); Mathieu Davis; Daniel Alvarez; Alex Cappuccio; Derek Kagen|
|Saves:||Gannon – Jacob Hollo (13) ; Mercyhurst – Nash Greeven (10)|
|Exclusions:||Gannon – 8 ; Mercyhurst – 7|
|Advantage Opportunities:||Gannon – 2-for-7; Mercyhurst – 2-for-8|
|Sprints:||Gannon – 1-for-4 (4th) ; Mercyhurst – 3-for-4 (1st, 2nd, 3rd)|
|Officials:||Igor Mernenko; Hadi Farid|
Mercyhurst University’s Alex Cappuccio (#4) shoots over Gannon University’s Anthony Squeglia (#9)
Mercyhurst University’s Daniel Alvarez (#5)
Gannon University’s Anthony Squeglia (#9) looks for an opening as Mercyhurst University’s Alex Cappuccio (#4) defends
Gannon University’s Drago Marjanovic (#18) surveys the tank as Mercyhurst University’s Derek Kagen (#10) closes in