Men's Water Polo: Tigers drop Navy to take Eastern title
Princeton (22-9 overall, 6-2 CWPA) also faced Navy in the title game at the 2009 Eastern Championships, which the Tigers won 5-4. Princeton has now won four of seven Eastern championship games. After defeating Navy (24-7, 5-3) twice this season in overtime but falling to the Midshipmen in the Southern Championships title game, this win for the title of Eastern champion proves that the Tigers are the best on the East Coast.
Starting strong against the Midshipmen, the Tigers jumped to a two-goal lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Despite being held scoreless in the second quarter, Princeton didn’t relinquish its lead and outscored the Midshipmen by three goals in the third quarter. In the final quarter of the game, Navy made an attempt at a comeback by tallying four goals, but Princeton stayed strong and scored three times to end the game up 10-7. Freshman attack Drew Hoffenberg netted three goals and was the only player from Princeton to score more than once in the win.
On Friday afternoon, Princeton began Eastern Championships with an easy win over Iona. Controlling the pool, the Tigers held the Gaels scoreless in the first and fourth quarters, bringing the final tally to 14-3.
In the semifinals, Princeton beat St. Francis in overtime after trailing by three goals halfway through the fourth quarter. Scoring the only two goals of overtime, the Tigers won 13-11. The Terriers had led the entire game, but the Tigers proved they know how to play hard when it matters.
After ending the first quarter ahead 5-3, the Terriers led the Tigers into the fourth quarter. Trailing by one goal entering the final quarter of the game, Princeton didn’t have much ground to make up. However, St. Francis netted two goals and lengthened the margin to 11-8. Fighting to continue their season and have a chance to head to NCAAs, Hoffenberg answered with a goal to bring the score to 11-9. To tie the game, junior attack Tim Wenzlau and Hoffenberg both converted on penalty shots, the second coming with only 36 seconds left. In overtime, Wenzlau again scored on a penalty shot and Hoffenberg built the margin with a goal on a man-advantage.
Sophomore goalie Ben Dearborn won Player of the Game honors. His 14 saves were crucial for the win over the Terriers. His three blocks in overtime especially helped advance the Tigers to the finals against Navy.
Dearborn and Hoffenberg represent Princeton on the first All-Tournament team and Wenzlau made the second team. Hoffenberg also received the honors of both Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Tournament, becoming the first to earn both honors at the same Eastern Championship in league history. Head coach Luis Nicolao was named the Dick Russell Eastern Coach of the Tournament.
The Tigers are the only East Coast team to continue their postseason and one of four in the nation. They will head out to Berkeley, Calif., to play in the National Championships on Dec. 3 and 4.