ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The United States Naval Academy water polo team concluded the home portion of its schedule with a pair of losses Scott Natatorium. The Midshipmen dropped an overtime thriller, 13-12, to Wagner in the early game, before falling to No. 16-ranked Fordham University, 11-6, in the afternoon contest.
Prior to the Fordham game, the Midshipmen recognized seven seniors – Kyle McKean (manager – Middletown, N.J.), Trevor Clark (San Marcos, Calif.), William Lowdon (Hillsborough, Calif.), Nate Reiff (Wheeling, Ill.), Brandon Shields (Lake Forest, Calif.), Kevin Volkov (Freehold, N.J.) and Ronan Williams (Severna Park, Md.) – for their contributions to the team over the past four seasons.
“Losing two games in one day is never easy,” head coach Luis Nicolao said after the game. “It is really tough today because the guys on the team really wanted to send the seniors out with a win. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that today. Give credit to Wagner and Fordham. They both played extremely well to earn the wins. We get another chance tomorrow against a very good Bucknell team and then a weekend off before the conference tournament. We have to put today behind us and move on.”
Offensively, the Midshipmen were led by Bobby Lee (Santa Ana, Calif.) who finished the day with five total goals, including a four-goal performance against Wagner. Trevor Clark (San Marcos, Calif.) was consistent scoring two goals in each game for four points on the day. Jake Altmayer (Pasadena, Calif.) led the team with three assists on the day, while fellow freshmen Will Clark (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and Zach Luci (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) added two helpers apiece.
Defensively, Max Sandberg (Newport Beach, Calif.) did a lion share of the work at goal. The sophomore finished the day with 23 saves on the day. Sandberg had 12 stops against Wagner, while adding 11 saves against No. 16 Fordham. Williams (two saves) and Shields (one) also saw time against the nationally-ranked Rams, combining for three saves.
In the first game of the day, Navy battled hard, but came up just short as Wagner won on a sudden-death double overtime goal. The game was close throughout with neither team taking more than a three-goal advantage (Wagner 10-7 and Wagner 11-8).
In the first half, the two teams were tied 2-2 through the first quarter and 5-5 at the half. Volkov put the Mids on the scoreboard and Reiff gave Navy its first lead. The Seahawks were able to match the Mids’ effort to be tied 2-2 after one. In the second quarter, Lee converted a five-meter opportunity to put the Midshipmen up 3-2. Isaac Salinas (Spring City, Pa.) found the back of the net to put Navy up 4-2. After a Wagner goal, Reiff put the home team up two with 2:16 to play in the half. Back-to-back goals by the Seahawks once again knotted the score, 5-5.
In the second half, Navy jumped out to a two-goal advantage with scores by T. Clark and Salinas. Wagner responded with three straight goals to take an 8-7 edge at the end of three quarters. The Seahawks continued their run with two more scores to go up 10-7. Lee ended the visitors’ 5-0 run with his second goal, but Wagner pushed the lead back to three with a goal.
From there, Navy made a push and was able to force overtime. Lee completed the hat trick with a goal to cut the margin to two. Cole Jacobs (Naperville, Ill.) corralled a loose ball off a Salinas misfire and punched it into the back of the net to pull Navy to within one. T. Clark took a pass from Altmayer, spun and launched a behind-the-back shot for the game-tying goal with just over a minute to play in regulation. The Midshipmen thought they had won the game, as Salinas tipped in a missed shot off the crossbar with just a fraction of a second remaining in regulation, but the goal was waved off as the officials deemed he was inside the restricted two-meter zone in front of the goal.
In overtime, Wagner was the first team to score, netting a goal with under a minute to play before the teams switched sides. After switching ends of the pool, Lee was able to tie the game with 23 ticks on the clock and force a sudden-death overtime period.
Navy missed several opportunities in the second overtime, clanging several shot attempts off of the crossbar. However, the Midshipmen’s defense stood strong, holding the Seahawks scoreless to keep the score locked at 12-12. With just 8.3 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Wagner was able to sneak a shot attempt past the Navy defense and claim the victory, 13-12.
In game two, Navy was able to keep the game close for the first half, but the nationally-ranked Fordham team took over the game in the second half to come away with the win. The game was tied at halftime, but the Rams outscored the Mids, 6-1, in the second half.
Navy took an early lead as Altmayer fed T. Clark in the middle for the goal. Fordham responded, but Lee converted a five-meter opportunity to put the Mids up 2-1 through one quarter of play. The Rams tied the game at two to start the second quarter, but back-to-back goals by T. Clark and Jacobs put the Midshipmen in front 4-2. Fordham tied the game with two scores until Jack Weggeland (Riverside, Calif.) scored to regain the lead for Navy. Fordham tied the game just before halftime at 5-5.
In the second half, Fordham was able to outscore Navy, 6-1. The third quarter saw the Rams net a pair of goals and hold the Mids scoreless. The nationally-ranked visitors added three more goals before Tiernan Brunner (Timonium, Md.) scored the Mids’ first second-half goal. Fordham added one more goal to provide the final score of 11-6.
Release courtesy United States Naval Academy Athletics Communications