The men’s water polo team (9-8 overall, 3-1 CWPA Southern) returned to DeNunzio Pool on Saturday to pick up a 10-7 win against Bucknell, ending a road trip that spanned 11 games in three states and Washington D.C.
The No. 16 Tigers began the game with a pair of goals by sophomore attacker Drew Hoffenberg. Despite starting out the second quarter with a 2-1 lead, Princeton found itself playing a Bucknell team that could regroup and come back stronger. Each team missed several key shots, but the Bison scored three goals to put Bucknell in the leading position at 4-2. Princeton’s next two goals, evening the score to 4-4 at the half, set the tone for the remainder of the game, as both teams repeatedly fell behind and rallied.
The Tigers and the Bison kept the score within one point for much of the rest of the match. The third quarter began with Bucknell jumping out to a 5-4 lead, only for Princeton to retaliate and even the score to 5-5. The Tigers were then able to create a 6-5 advantage, only for the Bison to rally to end the third quarter at 6-6. Freshman goalie Alex Gow played yet another impressive full game in the absence of injured junior goalie Ben Dearborn and recorded four key saves of his total 10 in the third quarter.
Junior attacker Kurt Buchbinder broke the tie early on in the fourth, putting Princeton one goal ahead at 7-6. However, the Bison once again evened the score to 7-7 21 seconds later. It was not until a power play in the Tigers’ favor aided senior captain and center defender Billy Tifft in scoring what would be the game-winning goal. Senior attacker Tim Wenzlau and freshman utility Jamie Kuprenas widened the 8-7 margin with two additional goals to end the game with a 10-7 win for the Tigers.
Hoffenberg, who dominated the offense with three goals and three assists as well as an impressive three steals on defense, attributed Princeton’s surge in the fourth quarter to a mixture of both offensive and defensive improvements.
“Bucknell is a great team, and they were able to keep it close for the first three quarters,” Hoffenberg said. “We were finally able to pull away in the fourth for a couple of reasons. First, our coaches made some solid adjustments at the break that helped us to beat their drop. Second, we started hitting shots that just weren’t falling in the first three quarters. Another factor that helped was our defense. We really shut them down in the fourth, and Alex Gow did a great job in the goal making a couple of key saves.”
Following Hoffenberg was Kuprenas with two goals. Buchbinder, senior attacker Tommy Donahue, sophomore defender Kayj
Shannon, Tifft and Wenzlau finished with one goal apiece. Buchbinder also added two assists to the offense, with Donahue and Wenzlau adding one each as well.
Sophomore attacker Sam Butler contributed two steals, and Donahue, Gow, Kuprenas, Shannon, sophomore center Matt Weber and Wenzlau all recorded a steal apiece as well.
Princeton will look to build upon the win when it faces off against a slew of opponents next weekend that it has already played this season, including another matchup against Bucknell and conference opponents Johns Hopkins and Navy.
The Tigers have beaten Johns Hopkins in the past but must look toward rebounding from their Sept. 22 loss to the Midshipmen in the upcoming game.
“Last time we played Navy, we got off to a slow start and had way too many turnovers,” Hoffenberg said. “This time around, we’ll look to come out with some more intensity as well as take better care of the ball and make the most out of each offensive possession.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/09/31425/