It was a memorable senior day for the No. 7 men’s water polo team (25–5 overall, 9–1 Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC)) as they honored the six seniors on the team and took care of business against Iona (12–18 overall, 4–8 conference) and Long Island University (LIU) (6–21 overall, 2–9 conference) on Nov. 4.
The first game of the day was against the LIU Sharks. Princeton beat LIU twice earlier this season (14–6, 16–8). Utility Luke Johnston shot the first goal, and then secured the second after drawing a penalty. The sophomore from Menlo Park moved into the first line, regaining his position after a surgery earlier this year.
After the Sharks tied the game up, the Tigers followed with four unanswered goals. Junior Roko Pozaric scored two of the four points. The star utility is on track to be Princeton’s leading goalscorer for the third straight season with 66 goals so far this year. At the end of the first quarter, it was 7–2 Tigers.
Senior utility Matej Sekulic scored early in the second quarter off a penalty shot for his second goal of the day. After stopping a drive from LIU, first-year goalie Kristóf Kovács assisted Pozaric, completing his hat trick. Pozaric has had nine hat tricks this season thus far.
Four Tigers scored their first goal of the game in the second quarter. Senior attacker Yurian Quinones, junior attacker Gavin Molloy, sophomore utility Logan McCarroll, and first-year utility Finn LeSieur all found the back of the net to make it 14–4 heading into halftime.
Before Princeton, McCarroll was one of the best 1–2 attackers in the country, securing All-American honors. This past season, however, he has primarily played as a center. This Saturday, McCarroll had the opportunity to move back to his 1–2 position with Johnston back in the first line.
“It felt great to be back on the 1–2 side, since I haven’t been there since high school,” McCarroll told the Daily Princetonian. “Overall, I can see I’m building a natural instinct for multiple positions which means I can play wherever Dusty [Litvak] needs me to play and be most helpful to the team in any situation.”
Head Coach Dustin Litvak had nothing but praise for McCarroll: “Logan is really a Swiss Army knife for us. We can use him anywhere.”
Litvak also noted, “His natural position is probably on the outside with the potential to post-up at any time. He is a very savvy player and also a very good outside shooter, so only using him at the center position somewhat limits how much he can help the team.”
Senior attacker Alex Roose opened the scoring in the second half. Roose — one of the team’s numerous walk-ons — was selected as a captain this year. The next goal came courtesy of junior attacker Luke Hammarskjold, marking his first multi-goal game of the season and putting the Tigers up 16–4.
Later in the game, up 18–5, junior attacker Will Garlinghouse found sophomore attacker Rees Barnes, who scored his first collegiate goal. Barnes is a walk-on from Portland, Oregon, where he finished high school as a top-five scorer in the state. Heading into the final period, the Tigers were dominating on both ends of the pools, up 19–6.
First-year utility Tigran Sennett scored the first goal of the last quarter, getting his first career hat trick in the process to put Princeton up 20–6. After Quinones drew a penalty, it was senior walk-on attacker Chris “Manny” Armstrong who stepped up to take it. As soon as the whistle sounded, Armstrong buried it in the top right corner. The goal got the Princeton bench and crowd on its feet, cheering for the senior.
Princeton 21, LIU 6 / 2:17 4th— Princeton Water Polo (@Pwaterpolo) November 4, 2023
Walk-on Senior Chris "Manny" Armstrong has his first collegiate goal on Senior Day! Congrats, Manny! pic.twitter.com/u3oxJKbMF8
The game ended with Sekulic scoring his third goal of the game to make it 22–6. After a consolation goal from the Sharks, Princeton won 22–7, their 24th win of the season and a rebound after losing to No. 10 Harvard the weekend prior.
“Tonight was pretty special,” senior captain and attacker Pierce Maloney told the ‘Prince.’ “I was lucky to be next to Chris [Armstrong] as he scored his first goal, and not only was it a moment for him, but it was really a team moment. When you have a guy who contributes as much as Chris does to the culture of the group, it’s a great moment for all of us when he’s able to contribute to the scoreboard too.”
Litvak added, “To this day I have walk-ons that contact me and almost always immediately reminisce about their senior night as one of their fondest memories here at Princeton. Our team is very special and that goes far beyond the guys that normally get the recognition.”
The second game of the day was against Iona. Prior to the game, the six Tiger seniors were honored. Senior goalie Christian Hartch, Maloney, Sekulic, Roose, Quinones, and Armstrong, who will all be graduating in May 2024, took this opportunity to celebrate their time on the team.
“Senior Day is always one of the best and most rewarding experiences of our season,” Litvak told the ‘Prince.’ “We have a few traditions that take place during our pre-game meeting that always bring the team closer together.”
It was none other than Pozaric who got the scoring started for the Tigers against the Gaels. First-year attacker William Swart scored late in the first to make it 4–1 Princeton heading into the second quarter. Maloney fired a shot cross cage to make it 5–1 Princeton early in the second quarter. Maloney scored once again during the following possession off of a pass from junior utility Isaac Rotenberg. At the half, it was 9–2 Princeton.
In the third quarter, Princeton was on cruise control. Scoring four goals and allowing just two, the Tigers headed into the final period up 13–4.
After Iona scored the first goal of the period, it was sophomore utility JP Ohl who found Roose for his second goal of the day. Ohl has had a breakout year for Princeton, with 62 assists on the season. This puts him at second all-time behind Ryan Wilson ’17, who finished his junior year with an impressive 86 assists.
“Saturday was one of the most fun days of my water polo career. It was an amazing experience to play for the last time at DeNunzio in front of my family,” Roose told the ‘Prince.’
Roose continued, “It brought the whole team so much joy to see all the seniors playing and scoring together on senior day. Personally, it was a very reflective day for me. In the morning seniors gave speeches reflecting on our time with this team, and it was special to share what an amazing time I had on this team.”
With 3:29 left in the fourth quarter, Swart scored his third goal of the game, marking the first hat trick of his young collegiate career. Swart is now up to 20 goals on the season. Senior Christian Hartch checked in at goal for Princeton in the final few minutes of the game, making a crucial save during an Iona power play to deny the Gaels.
“Seeing Hartch back in action was great,” Maloney added. “Senior night was a special moment as a senior captain because it felt free of responsibility, and the team was focused on making our experience so special. That’s a wonderful and liberating feeling, and the guys were great.”
The last goal of the game was scored by Quinones, his 147th career goal and his last at Denunzio Pool.
The 16–8 win marked the end of the regular season for Princeton, as they finished the regular season with 25 wins and locked up the No.1 seed heading into the NWPC tournament. The tournament is set to begin on Nov. 17, but the Tigers will play their first game on Nov. 18 because the first seed receives an opening-round bye.
“To see some of the guys who work tremendously hard and are dedicated to doing whatever they can to help our team and our culture get to play and play well — it doesn’t get much better than that,” Litvak added.
“I’m definitely going to miss the place,” Maloney told the ‘Prince.’ “There’s a certain atmosphere that the guys create at home, as well as a host of some of the great moments in my career having occurred there. I feel incredibly grateful. But now, it’s about winning at Blodgett and Uytengsu.”
The NWPC tournament will be held at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, and the NCAA tournament held at Uytengsu Aquatics Center, home of the USC Trojans.
McCarroll was confident that his team was ready: “We still haven’t hit our best, and that means other teams should be worried.”
Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
Please send corrections to corrections[at]princeton.edu.