ERIE, Pa. — The Gannon University media relations office is celebrating the department’s Top 10 moments of the 2019-20 year. These snapshots highlight record-breaking, standard-setting, and otherwise remarkable plays and performances that will be remembered well into the future.
Men’s water polo wins its second Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC)-West Region Championship in a 15-14 overtime win versus defending champion McKendree University.
First year head coach Shane Unger took over the program in the Spring of 2018 with some lofty goals for his 2019 squad. He wanted to see them win the MAWPC-West Region and head back to the MAWPC Championship tournament, and he led the team straight there.
Under Unger, the Golden Knights posted their second best record (18-4) in program history, won their third straight regulat season championship and finished conference play 6-0 to remain undefeated versus MAWPC-West opponents since joining the league in 2016. Gannon’s success in the 2019 season led them to a first round bye in postseason play.
Gannon hosted the MAWPC-West Tournament and the seven team field at the Hallman Aquatics Center. In the first round, No. 4 Mercyhurst University punched its ticket to play the Knights in round two with a win over No. 7 Connecticut College.
The Lakers never stood a chance as they faced off vs. the Knights. Gannon held Mercyhurst to just two goals in the first half. The Knights poured in four goals in each of the first two quarters. Riley Hinkley (Meshoppen, Pa./Princeton) and Jack Donnelly (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) scored back-to-back to open play, while Thomas Squeglia (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) and Drago Marjanovic (Belgrade, Serbia/North Allegheny (Pa.)) scored two straight to end the first quarter. Donnelly scored another two goals in the second quarter as the Knights took off to an 8-2 lead at the break.
Hinkley and Tim Baer (San Diego, Calif./Classical Academy) kept Gannon in the lead in the final two quarters leading the Knights to a 12-6 win over the Lakers and securing their spot in the championship game versus the defending champions McKendree University.
In their most competitive meeting of the season, both teams scored three goals each in the first two quarters. Hinkley started things off in the first with a goal at the 6:05 mark. Robert Bolmanski (Erie, Pa./McDowell) and Marjanovic would close the quarter with Gannon’s final two goals as the game was tied 3-3.
Majanovic came alive in the second scoring all three of Gannon’s goals consecutively. His first goal found the back of the net at the 6:02 mark. He scored again on a five-meter penalty shot over a minute later, and then again at the 4:24 mark. The Bearcats finished the quarter two two goals to enter the second half tied 6-6.
The Knights outscored the Bearcats 6-3 in the third to take their first considerable lead of the game. Ethan Hamp (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) and Marjanovic paved the way with two goals each. McKendree rallied in the fourth scoring three goals and holding Gannon scoreless to knot the game and force overtime.
McKendree took a one point edge in the first overtime period, but Donnelly tied it 14-14 with a goal at the 2:28 mark in the second period. The Bearcats had possession with 10 seconds left on the game clock, but Marjanovic forced a turnover to tally a steal. He sent a long, lob shot from the middle of the pool to score the game winner with three seconds left to play.
The Knights held on for the win and earned their second MAWPC West Championship since 2016. Gannon went on to play in the MAWPC Tournament hosted by Bucknell University as the No. 7 seed to cap the historic 2019 season.
Release courtesy Gannon University Athletics Communications