Water polo suffers four losses at MIT

Men’s water polo returned home Sunday after a two-day tournament at MIT, carrying with them the sting of four tough losses. The weekend’s lineup consisted of Dartmouth, MIT and two games against Fordham, three of the most competitive teams on the East Coast. MIT was the only varsity program in attendance and is also one of the top teams in the region. The Ephmen lost to MIT 15-1, to Dartmouth 10-7 and they fell to Fordham twice by scores of 8-6 and 10-3. Despite knowing that it was going to be a challenging tournament, the Ephmen were not daunted by their competition; they viewed it as an opportunity to improve their skills and come together as a team.

Top scorers this weekend included captain Will Cunningham ’06 and Brett Marinelli ’07. Other scorers were captain Adrian Salinas ’05, captain Dave Arnolds ’04, Kevin Koernig ’05 and Nick Veeder ’05.

Consistent improvement was noted from game one to game four, with both new and returning players getting a chance to test their skills in the water for the first time this season. The weekend was tiring, but the Ephs maintained a high level of intensity, met their high expectations and refused to give up.

“We may have gotten trounced in terms of the score, but overall it was a good showing for our first tournament,” Lance White ’04 said. “Everyone showed a lot of heart, seeing as how one third of the team had never played a game before.”

Water Polo happens to be a club sport here at Williams, although it is still very competitive. Traditionally there is no formal coaching staff. The team’s three captains, Arnolds, Cunningham and Salinas, lead their team by example.

“The captains are the coaches. We run things,” Salinas said. “Sometimes it’s hard because we see each other as peers, but we do things together and we get input from all the players anyway.”

New players this year include Alex Lawton ’05, Veeder, Ian Bone ’06, Nick Gallucci ’07, Phil Arnolds ’07, Ezra Burch ’07, Brett Marinelli ’07 and David Eisenson ’07, making the team a very young squad. This weekend’s tournament proved to be a worthwhile endeavor as it gave the Ephs time to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

“Since this was our first tournament as a new team that hasn’t really played together before, we needed to come together and get used to each other,” Marinelli said. “The first game was tough, but by the last game we really came together.”

Marinelli has played water polo since his freshman year in high school and is excited about being part of the team. “The guys are great,” he said. “We all get along, but it’s just like joining any other new team because it takes a lot of time getting used to everyone’s playing style. Overall, we mesh really well.” The Ephs seem quite confident that they will become a stronger team and defeat longtime rivals Amherst and Middlebury.

The Ephs did not let the difficult competition dampen their spirits. Instead, they used their down time to observe the other team’s tactics and to rest and recuperate for their upcoming games. As the weekend progressed they showed definite improvement. “We are a very good defensive team,” Salinas said, “and we are coming together more and more as an offensive team as the games go on.”

The Ephs have a demanding season ahead of them, beginning with a tournament at Yale next weekend. Other tournaments this season will be held at Williams and at Wesleyan. They are confident that they will be victorious in most, if not all, of these upcoming tournaments.

The Ephs plan to work hard during practices with motivation from this weekend’s outcome. Although they suffered some tough losses, they are using them as building blocks towards developing a stronger, closer team. With their level of commitment and skill, they are confident that they will find success.

The Ephs spirit will likely bring them far in the future. They hope to see many fans at their one home tournament on the weekend of Oct. 4 and 5. “Everyone needs to come see our team [next weekend at home] because we are such a great group of good-looking guys in Speedos,” Lawton said.