CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The fact that MIT's men's water polo team is attempting to incorporate 12 freshmen into its system for the 2006 campaign wasn't aided by the additional fact that the season opening Navy Labor Day Invitational in Annapolis, Md. pitted them against some of the best competition in the country. The Engineers suffered four losses over the weekend to Division I powerhouses George Washington (15-3), No. 1 Cal Berkeley (21-2), No. 17 Bucknell (14-4), and No. 13 Navy (10-4).
There were, however, bright spots to be found throughout the weekend. The teamwork between the players visibly improved with each game, leaving head coach Felix Mercado optimistic about the season's potential despite the results.
"From the beginning we made bad decisions with our passing and that led to too many fast break opportunities for our opponents," stated Mercado. "It also didn't help that we converted less than ten percent of our power play chances. But we are young and improvement is inevitable."
Senior Oliver Venn was impressed with the young team's resiliency. "Although we suffered through some stinging defeats, we maintained our determination against some of the most talented teams in the country," he noted. "I hope we carry that drive through the season."
Numerous players impressed throughout the weekend, including freshman two-meter man Rob Kalwarowsky. He was very effective whenever he got the ball, notching three goals and drawing numerous ejections. Sophomore Mike Smith-Bronstein also contributed three goals, while Phil Cassel, Kevin Amendt, Morgan Laidlaw, Devin Lewis, Mark Artz, Brian Kreider and Zack Cordero added one goal apiece.
The Engineers hope to get on the winning track this weekend when they host their own invitational Sept. 8-10. They kick off their home season on Friday, Sept. 8 with a 7:00 p.m. contest against Division III rival Washington and Jefferson followed by a match up with Florida International University at 8:30 p.m.