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Men’s water polo goes 2-1 in conference openers against Harvard, Brown, MIT

<h5>Juniors Yurian Quinones (left) and Keller Maloney (right) scored in Saturday's home game against Harvard.</h5>
<h6>Nicole Maloney / <a href="https://goprincetontigers.com/" target="_self">GoPrincetonTigers</a></h6>
Juniors Yurian Quinones (left) and Keller Maloney (right) scored in Saturday's home game against Harvard.
Nicole Maloney / GoPrincetonTigers

The men’s water polo team ended their eight-game winning streak with a disappointing loss to No. 15-ranked Harvard Crimson in the first of two games played at DeNunzio Pool on Saturday. The Tigers rebounded against Brown later in the day. They kept the momentum going on Sunday, defeating MIT. 

The Tigers had climbed the ranks to No. 9 in the country after successful games against Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, and UC Irvine last weekend in California. Updated Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) rankings will be released on Wednesday.

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The Crimson took the lead in the first half of Saturday morning’s game, with the Tigers trailing 6–3. Princeton then went on a scoring streak, led by sophomore center George Caras and first-year utility player Roko Pozaric, and made four consecutive goals to tie the game 7–7 early in the fourth quarter. First-year driver Vladan Mitrovic, junior attackers Yurian Quinones and Keller Maloney, and senior center Wyatt Benson also scored goals.

Both teams fought hard with a few minutes left on the clock, but Harvard ultimately won the game 10–8.

In a post-game interview with The Daily Princetonian, Pozaric reflected on the team's effort during the beginning of the game.

“In the first quarter we played kind of soft and we needed key players to start playing, [when they did] then we came back in the third quarter,” Pozaric said.

He also reflected on the team’s efforts thus far in the season.

“Starting [the game] has been a problem for us since the start of the season, but we were always able to come back and win. This time it was not the case because Harvard is a great team. If we want to beat them and other competitive teams, we need to play from the first minute,” he said.

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Princeton is scheduled to have a rematch with Harvard on Oct. 30 in Cambridge, Mass. The Tigers lost all three games against Harvard in 2019 and had rounded out the season at No. 17 in the CWPA polls, eight slots below their current ranking.

The Tigers bounced back later that evening, defeating Brown after a strong second-half showing. Brown took the lead to 4–3 by the end of the second quarter after a quick three-goal run. The teams stayed neck and neck after intermission, with the Tigers up 8–7 heading into the final quarter. Princeton dominated the fourth quarter, winning with a final score of 12–8.

Two goals each from Pozaric, Mitrovic, and Caras, as well as repeated assists from Mitrovic, Maloney, and sophomore Mason Killion, carried the Tigers to a strong win. Senior goalie Billy Motherway had seven saves, including a penalty shot save.

The Tigers then came out with a win against MIT on Sunday, finishing their weekend on a high note. After a 6-0 shutout in the first quarter, Princeton continued on to a 15-5 finish.

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Men’s water polo is now 14-3 on the season and 2-1 against Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) opponents.

The Tigers will play against Iona and St. Francis-Brooklyn next Saturday before traveling to California over fall break to face No. 6 University of the Pacific, No. 2 UC Berkeley, No. 14 Santa Clara, No. 20 Air Force Academy, and No. 9 (tied) San Jose State.

Le’Naya Wilkerson is a staff writer for the ‘Prince’ Sports section. She can be reached at lw7842@princeton.edu.

Nolan Musslewhite is a staff writer for the ‘Prince’ Sports section. He can be reached at nmusslewhite@princeton.edu.

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