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Salem University-vs.-Washington & Jefferson College Scoresheet Part I (MAWPC-West Championship – Fifth Place)
Salem University-vs.-Washington & Jefferson College Scoresheet Part II (MAWPC-West Championship – Fifth Place)

ERIE, Pa. — Ivan Zivojinovic (Fr., Belgrade, Serbia) scored a game-high eight goals – including five in the second quarter – to claim Player of the Game recognition as No. 6 seed Salem University edged No. 5 Washington & Jefferson College, 25-24, in the Fifth Place game of the Winter 2021 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC)-West Region Championship.

Competing at the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center next to the Donnelly Football Field as part of the Hagerty Family Events Center,  offense ruled the day and defense took a backseat as the Tigers and Presidents put up goals like touchdowns and field goals to combine for the most goals tallied in a single game during the five-year history of the MAWPC-West Championship at 49.

The combined 49 goals obliterates the previous mark of 35 goals held by McKendree University from a 26-9 from a victory over Washington & Jefferson yesterday and previously established by Salem in a 25-10 dispatching of Momouth College on November 3, 2018 at the MAWPC-West Championship.

Individually, Salem does not set a new record for most goals by a single team in the MAWPC-West Championship game – as McKendree holds that record from its 26-9 defeat of W&J in the opening game of the Winter 2021 MAWPC-West Championship.  The Bearcats’ performance yesterday erased the previous high of 25 established by Salem in its 2018 defeat of Monmouth.

In a game pitting the 0-5 Tigers against the 0-6 Presidents with both squads seeking to avoid a winless season, Salem jumped out to an early lead in the game as Chad Rowley (So., Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago/Fatima College) and Manuel Soto Estela (So., Puerto Rico/St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)) banged home shots at the 7:44 and 5:48 marks of the first quarter to push the Tigers ahead 2-0.

Washington & Jefferson stormed back with four consecutive scores to claim the lead at 4-2 as Will Kitsch (Jr., Mohnton, Pa./Governor Mifflin), Mitchell Rubio (So., Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), Ryan Bannon (So., Broomfield, Colo./Broomfield) and Andrew Edwards (So., Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) buried even-strength opportunities at 5:32, 5:06, 4:34 and 4:03, respectively.

Mike Diaz (Jr., Visalia, Calif./El Diamante) stopped the run with a marker at the 2:40 mark, but the Presidents went back to work as Bannon (2:18) and Chris Edwards (Fr., Bexley, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) (1:52, 1:35) connected on back-to-back-to-back chances to build Washington & Jefferson’s lead to four at 7-3.

Salem chipped a pair of tallies off its deficit as Saequan Miller (R-So., Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas/C.R. Walker) swished a man-up bid at 1:18 and Rowley rifled in an even-strength shot with 47 seconds left in the opening frame to move the Tigers within 7-5.

However, Bannon struck again prior to the horn by beating Salem goalie Julen Alonso (So., Madrid, Spain/IES Beatriz Galindo) with two ticks on the clock to make it 8-5 after eight minutes of action.

The tide turned in the opening moments of the second quarter as Zivojinovic (7:43), Goncalo Silva (Fr., Lisbon, Portugal) (6:26, man-up; 5:34) combined for three consecutive goals to square the squads at eight-all

Rubio returned the lead to W&J at 9-8 with 5:18 until halftime, but Zivojinovic (4:55) answered to again tie the games at nine-all.

Kyle Rubenstein (Jr., Abington, Pa./Upper Dublin) pushed W&J back into the lead at 10-9 (4:43), but the Tigers pounced as Rowley (3:32; 2:02) and Zivojinovic (2:34; 1:38) combined for four markers to again shift the momentum in favor of Salem with a 13-10 lead.

Bannon (1:09) and Robert Koch (Jr., Worcester, Pa./La Salle College) (51 seconds) delivered responses for the Presidents to pull within one at 13-12.  From there, the teams traded scores until the halftime horn as Zivojinovic (35 seconds) and Rubenstein (three seconds) each found the back of the cage for a 14-13 Salem lead at intermission.

Washington & Jefferson again pulled even 18 seconds into the third quarter as Rubio stroked in an equalizer to balance the scoreboard at 14-all.

However, Salem went back on the prowl as Zivojinovic (7:13) and Silva (6:06) connected on man-up opportunities to sandwich a natural marker by Diaz (6:35) as the Tigers bounded out to a 17-14 lead.

In a pattern that repeated itself often in the contest, W&J stormed back as AJ Alderman (Fr., Camp Hill, Pa./Cumberland Valley) and Kitsch flushed shots at 4:26 and 3:48, respectively, to trim Salem’s lead to 17-16.

Estela (3:27) and Silva (2:47) widened the gap back to three at 19-16 by cashing in on six-on-five chances, but Washington & Jefferson shocked Salem by ripping off back-to-back-to-back-to-back strikes by Chris Edwards (2:04), Kitsch (1:35), Bannon (39 seconds) and Tyler Francis (Sr., Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) (three seconds) to grab a 20-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

W&J appeared to have the Tigers by the tail as Kitsch drove home another score at 7:35 to make it a two-goal game at 21-19.

However, Salem caught cat-scratch fever thanks to Rowley who erased the deficit with even-strength (7:20) and man-up (6:36) tallies to square the teams at 21-all.

The offensive slugfest continued as Rubio (3:13) and Zivojinovic (3:03) landed blows 10 seconds a part to make it 22-all.

Salem finally gained some traction as Zivojinovic (2:36) and Miller (1:20) drilled in shots to stake the Tigers to a 24-22 lead.

Washington & Jefferson cut into the margin with 54 seconds left as Bannon broke through for his sixth goal of the game, but Rowley played hero once again by lining in what would prove to be the game-winner with 44 seconds to go for a 25-23 lead.

Rubio attempted to fuel one final surge by W&J as he put away a shot with 30 seconds left, but time and a costly exclusion by Alderman with six seconds left allowed Salem to escape with an epic 25-24 win.

For Salem, Zivojinovic (eight), Rowley (seven) and Silva (four) each recorded hat-tricks, while Estela, Diaz and Miller each accounted for pair of markers.  Alonso earned the win with eight saves.

The Tigers, which had never previously finished outside the Top Four at the MAWPC-West Championship following prior second (2018), third (2019, 2017) and fourth (2016) place marks, finishes in Fifth Place in the six team championship field.

For Washington & Jefferson, Bannon (six), Rubio (five), Kitsch (four) and Chris Edwards (three) each notched hat-tricks.  Rubenstein chipped in a pair, while Francis, Koch, Alderman and Andrew Edwards added solo markers.

Alex Lee (So., Los Angeles, Calif./Eagle Rock) took the loss in cage for the Presidents with four saves.

Historically, W&J has now placed fifth (2019, 2016), sixth (Winter 2021, 2018) and eighth (2017) at the MAWPC-West Championship.

1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q FINAL
Washington & Jefferson College
8 5 7 4 24
Salem University 5 9 5 6 25
Salem Goals: Ivan Zivojinovic (8); Chad Rowley (7); Goncalo Silva (4); Manuel Soto Estela (2); Mike Diaz (2); Saequan Miller (2)
Washington & Jefferson Goals: Ryan Bannon (6); Mitchell Rubio (5); Will Kitsch (4); Chris Edwards (3); Kyle Rubenstein (2); Tyler Francis; Robert Koch; AJ Alderman; Andrew Edwards
Saves: Salem – Julen Alonso (8) ; Washington & Jefferson – Alex Lee (4)
Exclusions: Salem – 10 ; Washington & Jefferson – 14
Advantage Opportunities: Salem – 7-for-14 ; Washington & Jefferson – 0-for-10
Sprints: Salem – 3-for-4 (1st, 2nd, 4th) ; Washington & Jefferson -1-for-4 (3rd)
Cards/Misconducts: Washington & Jefferson – YC (Head coach Nikola Malezanov, 56 seconds left in 1st Q)
Officials: Jason Grubb ; Elijah Fellers


Washington & Jefferson College’s Tyler Francis (#9) defends Salem University’s Chad Rowley (#8)

Washington & Jefferson College’s Will Kitsch (#2) shoots against Salem University

Washington & Jefferson College’s Mitchell Rubio (#16) cocks to shoot

Salem University’s Ivan Zivojinovic (#2) rises to fire as Washington & Jefferson College’s Tyler Francis (#9) attempts a field block

Collegiate Water Polo Association