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No. 18 Princeton men’s water polo to play final two games before NWPC tournament

<p>First-year Ryan Neapole.</p>
<h6>Photo Credit: GoPrincetonTigers</h6>

First-year Ryan Neapole.

Photo Credit: GoPrincetonTigers

The Princeton men’s water polo team is preparing for two games in its home DeNunzio Pool this Saturday, Nov. 9, a day dedicated to celebrating its seniors. These games are the last before the NWPC Tournament from Nov. 22–24 and could be the Tigers’ last home game of the season. Princeton is currently No. 20. 

Coming off of a seven-goal win against MIT and two losses against Brown (8–10) and Harvard (6–10) last weekend, Coach Dustin Litvak said the team has “learned a lot about how we can be successful and what is keeping us from being successful” from last weekend’s games. Aware of the risks of flu season, the Tigers are also trying to stay healthy. According to Litvak, the team is at a “pretty similar spot to where we were last year.”

That being said, the team is looking to further improve. The Tigers’ main concern is consistency. On offense, Litvak stressed the importance of “live entry pass,” or passing the ball to the center without foul. In terms of defense, the focus turns to body position. The Tigers’ “opponents are moving a lot,” which “changes the whole dynamic of how we play our defense,” Litvak said. With this movement on the opposing offense, the Tigers hope to maintain more advantageous body positioning on defense.

This Saturday, the Tigers will be playing Iona and No.16 St. Francis-Brooklyn. The Tigers feel optimistic about their home-field advantage this weekend, but Litvak also recognizes that these are two “really strong opponents.” Both teams practice in pools that are mechanically different from the rest of the conference’s. Iona’s pool is narrower and shallower, and St. Francis-Brooklyn also has a comparatively narrow pool. Playing in bigger water is a potential challenge for these opponents. 

Iona played a strong game last week against Ottowa. Litvak recognizes that Iona’s movement-style offense will be a “good test for body position” in the Tigers’ defense. The Tigers secured a significant 13–5 win against St. Francis-Brooklyn on Oct. 13, but they should not be overlooked. “St. Francis has some incredibly talented individual players,” Litvak said.

The Tigers are also looking forward to Senior Day this Saturday. This will be a big moment for the seniors, as it may be their last game in DeNunzio. This senior class is filled with “phenomenal leaders” who “always put the team ahead of themselves and have made a lot of sacrifices along the way,” Litvak said.

He noted that “playing in a competitive environment in a team sport is a unique experience” and expressed his hope that the seniors enjoy the rest of their season. The whole team, he said, is working to ensure that the seniors “make the most of it in this last month or so.” 

Watch the Tigers play against Iona at noon and St. Francis-Brooklyn at 6 p.m. this Saturday at DeNunzio Pool.