Men’s water polo: Bears drive to 4th place
After three one-goal games played at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, last weekend, the men’s club water polo team earned fourth place at the Division III club national championship tournament.
The Bears compete in the Missouri Valley Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association. Their regular season opponents have included Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri, Western Illinois, Miami of Ohio, Illinois State and Lindenwood. When Lindenwood opted to compete at the Division I club tournament, Washington University qualified for the tournament in Maine.
“We’ve been playing mostly Division I schools, their club teams, which has been tough, but we’ve always played pretty hard and done decently,” sophomore Michael Musgrave said. “Before nationals our record wasn’t great…but it gave us a lot in terms of what we needed before nationals because I feel like we really delivered when we went there.”
The team, comprised of mostly graduate students, defeated Bowdoin 9-8 in its first game to advance to the tournament’s Final Four. Musgrave scored five of Wash. U.’s nine goals in the game.
“To be honest [our toughest opponent] was probably the team we beat…In the first game we knew that if we won it we were going to the Final Four,” Musgrave said. “They had some really good shooters on the team, our goalie really helped us with that. We also just played a good defense.”
The Bears lost their next two games by one point each, falling to Monmouth College 5-6 and New York University 8-7. Goalie and graduate student Adam Webb was named to the second all-tournament team, while Musgrave was named to the first team.
“We played with a completely new offense for the nationals tournament, and so it gave me a different role than I had played the entire season,” Musgrave said. “I got a lot of touches on the ball, which made a big difference. And we got a lot of ejections, which meant we were man-up and I play a scoring role in our man-up offense. Otherwise, I was really focused, I knew how important this was.”
Webb emphasized that the fourth-place finish and having two players recognized bodes well for the team’s future.
“I’m a fifth-year student here, and it was definitely the best team I’ve played with at Wash. U. We played together as such a team this weekend,” Webb said. “We learned playing against these great teams that we could play together and could compete as a team.”
Team members also noted a new cohesiveness at the national tournament.
“I think before [nationals] a lot of people just went to the games and tried to get their own goals or their own recreation out of it,” Musgrave said. “We knew when we went to nationals, we had to play as a team, that we had to deliver for the rest of the guys that were coming, and it was just a completely different mental state for us.”
The Bears return to action in the spring.