MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The uncertainty and delay in the lead-up to its 2020 season didn’t seem to affect the Gannon University men’s water polo team when it finally hit the pool, as the Golden Knights sprinted out to a quick four-goal lead on the way to a season-opening 26-5 victory over Mount St. Mary’s University at the Aquatics Center at Mylan Park.
Competing in the only countable game of the day as host Salem University fielded a limited roster in a season-opening 21-11 exhibition loss to Gannon prior to stopping Mount St. Mary’s 26-13 in a concluding exhibition victory, it was the Golden Knights who dominated the contest.
Gannon wasted no time getting its offense into action, with Seth Johnson (So., Sugar Hill, Ga./Lanier) scoring 34 seconds into the game prior to strikes by Ethan Hamp (Sr., Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) and Robert Bolmanski (Erie, Pa./McDowell) also within the first two minutes. A score from Dylan Schmitzerle (Fr., Plymouth, Mich./Huron) made it 4-0 midway through the opening quarter as the Golden Knights pulled away.
After the Mount got on the board, Anthony Squeglia (Sr., Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) netted a penalty shot goal, and two more finishes from Schmitzerle and Johnson bumped the Golden Knight lead to 7-1 after eight minutes.
Gannon blew the game wide open in the second quarter with Vladimir Mickic (So., Subotica, Serbia/Nikola Tesla) scoring four times to bolster a run of eight straight goals that gave the Knights a 13-goal margin at 15-2 heading into intermission. They turned it into a 13-0 run with the first five goals of the third, with Johnson and Bolmanski each netting a pair during that span.
The Golden Knights allowed just one shot on goal to Mount St. Mary’s in the third as they built an insurmountable lead, and two more goals out of Schmitzerle in the fourth put the game away.
The offensive performance set a new program record as Gannon’s 26 goals broke the previous mark of 25 that had stood for 11 years. That came during a win over Penn State Behrend during the 2009 season. The 21-goal margin of victory also broke the previous record of 18, set in 2003 against Behrend and 2001 against Mercyhurst University.
Johnson paced the offense for the Golden Knights, setting a new career-high with his five goals.
Three others tallied four goals, with Schmitzerle and Mickic doing so in their Gannon debuts. Bolmanski hit the mark as well.
Jacob Hollo (So., Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) and Nate Winkler (Sr., Southlake, Texas/Carroll) split time in goal for the Golden Knights, with Hollo making five saves and Winkler adding three.
Eli Thalos (Jr., Salt Lake City, Utah/West/University of the Pacific) led the way for the Mountaineers with three goals and two assists, with Marko Kruska (Jr., Belgrade, Serbia/High School for Tourism/West Valley College) adding two goals. Normally a goalkeeper, Kruska played the field while Joseph Maxson (Fr. Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Westminster) played in goal. The goalie turned field player made history for Mount St. Mary’s by punching in a goal with 2:37 left in the first quarter – the inaugural score in the history of the first-year Mountaineers’ program.
Information courtesy Gannon University & Mount St. Mary’s Athletics Communications