The men’s water polo team continued their steady improvement last weekend with two decisive victories against George Washington and Navy at home. While both wins were non-conference, they have boosted the Tigers’ No. 13 rank to a season high of 9, making Princeton the highest-ranked Northeast Water Polo Conference team in the nation.
Princeton returned to the pool last Sunday after a 4-1 run the week before, with victories against Iona, Brown, St. Francis-Brooklyn, and MIT and a tough 8-7 loss to Harvard. Both George Washington and Navy have been consistent opponents on the Tigers’ schedule. The Colonials, while a solid opponent ranked 16th when they entered DeNunzio this Sunday, had only won one match out of forty against Princeton in program history. Though Navy is an overall 35-31 against the Tigers, as of late, Princeton holds the upper hand against the Midshipmen, having won 10 out of their last 11 encounters.
No. 16 George Washington entered DeNunzio on a hot streak, having won five out of their last six games and attained the highest national poll ranking in school history. A dangerous opponent with a dynamic offense, the Colonials had taken down such foes as No.15 Air Force and No. 9 Bucknell. The Tigers, however, quickly took a decisive lead in the match, holding a staggering 10-3 lead by halftime. Sophomore driver Matt Payne led Princeton with five goals, with senior utility Jovan Jeremic adding another three. Meanwhile, a powerful defense, spearheaded by All-American Vojislav Mitrovic’s nine saves and ten team steals, held back a strong Colonial offense. Though George Washington made a valiant rally in the second half, the Tigers ultimately proved dominant, winning 16-8 against another formidable opponent.
The Tigers returned to the pool later that day to take on Navy, which has struggled so far this season with a 6-10 overall record and an 0-5 record in away pools. Against the Tigers, however, the Midshipmen mounted an admirable effort, scoring the first goal against Princeton. However, Princeton proved too dominant for Navy to handle. Powerful offensive performances from freshman Sean Duncan and sophomore Ryan Wilson, who scored three goals each, netted the Tigers a strong 9-4 lead by halftime, while Mitrovic again proved a dominant force at the net with fifteen saves. Though Navy, like George Washington, would play strongly in the second half, Princeton was able to hold on for an ultimate 12-7 victory.
The Tigers’ two strong wins last weekend catapulted them in the national rankings, earning them a ninth place in the national poll. Their next matches come against Ivy League rivals Harvard and Brown next weekend.