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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — David Ling (Fr., Steilacoom, Wash.) lead all scorers with six strikes, while the duo of Thomas Fies (Fr., Evanston, Ill.) and Flynn Walker (Sr., Princeton, N.J.) both pumped in four markers, as Washington University in St. Louis made history via a 17-7 defeat of Tufts University to claim the 2017 Men’s Division III Collegiate Club Championship at Middlebury College.

The crown marks Washington’s fourth consecutive Division III National Championship.  The Bears, who tied for the 2014 title with the University of California-Santa Cruz due to a snowstorm induced power outage at Bowdoin College, repeated as National Champion in 2015 at Macalester College. Last year, the Bears downed host Hamilton College (17-9 W), New York University (13-11 W) and Carnegie Mellon University (14-7 W) to claim back-to-back-to-back crowns and tie fellow Missouri Valley Division institution Lindenwood University as the only teams to win three consecutive Division III crowns.

In addition, the Bears become the first team to win four men’s collegiate club National Championships in a row.  The event could occur twice in 2017 for a team from the Missouri Valley Division as 2014, 2015 and 2016 Men’s National Collegiate Club Champion Lindenwood has already qualified and is a favorite to claim the 2017 Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship in Florida State University in two weeks due to being ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Further, the Bears appeared in their seventh consecutive Division III title game as the Bears defeated Bowdoin College 13-10 at Hamilton College in 2011 and lost a 12-11 heartbreaker in sudden death overtime to Monmouth College in 2012 at Middlebury College. In 2013, UC-Santa Cruz claimed a 13-9 victory at Franklin & Marshall College against the Bears.

Looking to right its name in the annals of collegiate club water polo once more, Washington fell behind 1-0 with 3:33 left in the first quarter as Tufts’ Hazen Breen (Sr., Pasadena, Calif.) broke loose for a scoring shot to cap off a man-up chance. 

However, the lead was short-lived as Walker posted the equalizer at 2:46, Ling launched in a go-ahead man-up strike at 2:32, Fies followed with another power-play conversion at 1:55 and Ling whipped in his second marker of the opening quarter with 1:22 on the clock to set Washington comfortably in front at 4-1.

Calvin Liang (Gr., Fullerton, Calif.) attempted to reinvigorate the Tufts’ offense by putting away an even-strength bid with 41 seconds left on the quarter clock, but Ling completed a hat-trick in less than eight minutes by bounding in his third strike of the frame with 28 ticks left to set the scoreboard at 5-2.

Walker (5:05) and Fies (4:34) opened the second quarter with back-to-back goals to build the spread to 7-2.  Once again, however, the Jumbos attempted to stampede back into the contest as Ross Wood (Jr., Fort Washington, Pa.) zinged in consecutive liners at 4:01 and 2:51 to inch Tufts within 7-4.

The remainder of the quarter and the first half belonged to Washington as Max Bernstein (Jr., St, Louis, Mo.), Fies and Ling tagged Tufts’ territory for a trio of tallies at 2:07, 34 seconds (man-up) and one second, respectively, to inflate the spread to 10-4 by halftime.

For Tufts, the margin proved too big of a deficit to overcome against the defending Division III National Champions in a half as the Bears held 4-2 and 3-1 scoring advantages in the third and fourth quarters to coast to another National Championship crown.

Besides Ling, Fies and Walker, the Bears received single goals by Eric Olaya (Jr., Bordentown, N.J.), Will Nickerson (Sr., St, Louis, Mo.) and Bernstein.  Goalie Michael Lorberg (So., St. Louis, Mo.) turned away 15 shots, including seven over the span of the fourth quarter’s seven minutes, to take the victory.

Wood led Tufts with four goals, while Liang, Abe Massik (Jr., Corte Madera, Calif.) and Breen each hit the twine once for the 2009 Division III National Champions.  Hans Tercek (Sr., Beverly Hills, Calif.) took the loss with eight saves.

The runner-up finish is the first time the Jumbos have advanced to the title game and not been victorious as the squad previously placed First (2009), Third (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013), Fourth (2014, 2016) and Fifth (2012, 2015) since 2006.

1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q FINAL
Tufts College 2 2 2 1 7
Washington University in St. Louis 5 5 4 3 17
Washington Goals: Ross Wood (4); Calvin Liang; Abe Massik; Hazen Breen
Tufts Goals: David Ling (6); Thomas Fies (4); Flynn Walker (4); Eric Olaya; Will Nickerson; Max Bernstein
Saves: Washington – Michael Lorberg (15) ; Tufts – Hans Tercek (8)
Exclusions: Washington – 6 ; Tufts – 9
Advantage Opportunities: Washington – 3-for-9 ; Tufts – 2-for-6
Sprints: Washington – 0-for-4  ; Tufts – 4-for-4
Officials: Dennis Kinne, Steve Sargalski


Photo 1: 2017 Men’s Division III Collegiate Club Champion Washington University in St. Louis; Photo 2: Tufts University’s Ross Wood looks for an opening as Washington University in St. Louis’ Thomas Fies defends; Photo 3: Washington University in St. Louis’ David Ling lines up a shot against Tufts University; Photo 4: Washington University in St. Louis Thomas Fies rises to shoot as Tufts University’s Max Breuer (#12) defends

Collegiate Water Polo Association