The men’s water polo team faces a difficult task this season, trying to repeat last year’s magic. After winning the Eastern championship and then the third place match against University of California, San Diego in the NCAA Championships, this team will definitely have big shoes to fill and high expectations to meet. Yet, this team is poised for a great run and has the chance to top last year’s success.
Princeton came into the 2012 season ranked No. 13 in the country, a ranking that is definitely impressive, but not up to the players’ standard.
“We were expecting to be ranked anywhere between nine and 13,” sophomore attacker Drew Hoffenberg said. “It would have been awesome to be ranked in the top 10 but being ranked 13th will motivate us to get better, work harder and earn a top 10 rank.”
Despite not being a top 10 team quite yet, the Tigers are still very highly ranked, and there is good reason for that. Princeton is led by senior leadership and boasts some impressive up-and-coming talents. Senior attacker Tim Wenzlau scored 38 goals last season and was named to the All-Eastern Tournament Second Team. Senior attacker Tommy Donahue, who was named to the All-Southern first team in 2010, as well as senior center Jack Ruth, also figure to play a crucial part in this team’s success.
A major factor in the team’s success last season was the phenomenal play of its freshman class, which, as sophomores, should only be better in 2012. Sophomore centers Matt Weber and Kayj Shannon had a huge impact last season, scoring 45 and 35 goals last season, respectively.
Possibly the brightest star in the Class of 2015 is Hoffenberg, who impressively led the team in goals with 47 as a freshman. He undoubtedly had one of the best freshman seasons in Princeton men’s water polo history, and he is poised to have an even better year in 2012. Hoffenberg is excited about the upcoming year and is expecting a great season.
“The team is really looking forward to this season,” Hoffenberg said. “We return a lot of key members as well as add three great freshmen to the squad. Our goal this year is to win the Eastern Championship and make the NCAA tournament.”
The combination of senior leadership and underclassman goal scoring seems like it should be a recipe for success. The Tigers also welcome three freshmen onto the team this year looking to make the same kind of impact players like Hoffenberg did last year. They are utility Bradley Wachtell, utility Jamie Kuprenas and goalie Alex Gow.
The men’s water polo team has already kicked off its 2012 season, having hosted the Princeton Invitational at DeNunzio Pool from Sept. 7 through Sept. 9. The Tigers went 3-2, defeating Cal Lutheran, Harvard and MIT but falling to No. 3 California and No. 2 UCLA.
Hoffenberg led the Tigers with 16 goals in the first five games, including a pair of six goal performances against Cal Lutheran and MIT. In addition to being pleased with his personal performance over the weekend, Hoffenberg also loved the team’s energy to start off the season.
“The team was amped to finally play our first games of the season,” Hoffenberg said. “Everyone tried hard and played well and it showed off in our three wins. As for our games against Cal and UCLA, it is always disappointing to lose but both Cal and UCLA are great teams and they played very well.”
Despite being just 3-2 after their first weekend of action, the Tigers are poised to make a late season run and have a definite shot at the Eastern championship. Princeton heads to Cambridge, Mass., for the North-South Invite on Saturday.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/14/31106/