September 1, 2007

Water Polo Falls to Johns Hopkins in Season-Opener, 9-5

Sept. 1, 2007

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - MIT's water polo team opened its 2007 campaign at the Navy Labor Day Open on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 9-5 decision to defending Division III Eastern Champions, Johns Hopkins University. The Engineers also competed against Navy B in an afternoon exhibition, falling in that contest by a score of 9-6.

MIT (0-1) was led on the offensive end by Mark Artz, who showed no signs of a sophomore slump while scoring a pair of goals for the Cardinal and Gray. The Deerfield Beach, Fla., native notched 37 goals in his rookie season - good enough for third on the team - and looks set to continue to find his scoring touch this year. Junior Mike Smith-Bronstein also got his name on the score sheet for Tech, along with freshmen John Preis and Brian Gardiner, who each bagged the first tallies of their intercollegiate careers.

The Engineers, led by first-year head coach Adam Foley, matched up evenly with a powerful Johns Hopkins (1-0) side in the opening quarter, trailing just 2-1 at the break. However, a three-goal outburst from the Blue Jays in the second frame gave them a much more comfortable 5-1 cushion at halftime.

Artz was the catalyst for an early third quarter fight-back by the exuberant Engineers, scoring both of his goals in quick succession to cut Johns Hopkins' lead to 5-3. The Blue Jays once again put together three successive goals, however, to stretch their advantage to 8-3 entering the final quarter.

Although MIT outscored Johns Hopkins 2-1 in the fourth, it wasn't enough to seriously threaten the deficit, leaving the Blue Jays with the 9-5 victory.

In the afternoon's second contest, the Engineers matched up with No. 11 ranked Navy's B team in an unofficial exhibition. Despite two goals each from Preis and sophomore Devin Lewis, the Cardinal and Gray fell to the Midshipmen, 9-6.

Navy B jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and seemed comfortably in control of the match, but the youthful squad from MIT refused to back down. Tech finished strong, at one point cutting the Midshipmen's advantage to 8-5, before ultimately falling by the final score line of 9-6.

Sophomore Rob Kalwarowsky secured his first goal of the season following an impressive freshman campaign, which saw him tally 29 times, while Smith-Bronstein notched the Engineers' other goal on a five-meter attempt.

Another sensational sophomore, Nick Souza, manned the net for MIT in both games, racking up seven saves in the first match and six in the afternoon tilt. His 220 saves in 2006 was the third highest single-season total in program history.

The Engineers will rue a number of missed six-on-five chances in both contests, as they drew nine ejections against Johns Hopkins (with two conversions) and 13 against Navy B (with four conversions). MIT will have the chance to improve upon that percentage when it concludes play at the Navy Labor Day Open tomorrow, Sept. 2, with matches against Penn State Behrend at 9:10 a.m. and Pacific B at 12:40 p.m.