Men’s water polo nabs seventh at Nationals

Men’s water polo returned to Williamstown from its excursion to Saint Paul, Minn., with a seventh-place finish at the 2015 Div. III National Collegiate Club Championships. In the seventh-place game, Jason Ring ’16 scored five times to earn Player of the Game accolades, and the dynamic duo of Mitchell Towne ’16 and co-captain Mac Finnie ’16 both scored four times as the men secured a 16-9 victory over Emory.

The Ephs wasted little time in building a massive lead against the Eagles, bringing the score up to 5-0 by the conclusion of the first quarter. John Hammond ’16 got the Ephs’ offense going with a goal only 54 seconds into the game before Towne and Ring followed with even-strength tallies to make it a 4-0 contest. Finnie finished the early crusade with 60 seconds left in the quarter to bring the margin of victory up to 5-0.

Emory finally got on the board 18 seconds into the second quarter to make the score 5-1 as James Dickey drilled a shot past Eph goalie Jordan Jace ’18 with 6:42. However, the Ephs replied forcefully as Finnie rattled the cage with three consecutive goals before Ring and Hammond doled out their licks to give the Ephs a landslide lead of 11-1. The Eagles did find another goal prior to the halftime horn as Billy Seeburger found an opportunity past the Eph defense to make the score 11-2.

A five-meter penalty shot from Towne 23 seconds into the third quarter brought the score up to 12-2 before Eagle J.R. McMillan responded with a goal at 5:30, making the score 12-3. The Ephs proceeded to add to their tally with Towne solidifying an even-strength marker and Dickey nailing a power-play shot to set the scoreboard at 13-4 before Towne scored again through a conversion off a man-up chance with 1:07 to earn a 14-4 lead for the Ephs after 21 minutes of competition.

In the fourth quarter, Robert Hefferon ’18 substituted in for Jace as goalie to get some time in the field. Alex Flick ’16 brought the Ephs’ lead up to 11 only 39 seconds into the fourth quarter, but the Eagles began a great attempt at rebounding. Dickey, McMillan and Thomas O’Leary brought the Ephs lead down to six with five consecutive scores over only five minutes, the scoreboard now reading 15-9. The Ephs replied with an additional insurance goal with 19 seconds left courtesy of Ring, his fifth goal of the game and the one that would allow the Ephs to claim a 16-9 victory.

For the Ephs, Hammond, Ring, Finnie and Towne put multiple goals on the board while Flick also secured one point. Jace dominated in goal, totaling nine saves over the first three quarters prior to Hefferon protecting the net with an impressive seven saves.

The Ephs, who made their first appearance in the Div. III Club Championships after joining the newly formed Colonial Division Championship, record their third time placing at a Collegiate Water Polo Association postseason tournament. The team previously earned sixth at the 2006 National Collegiate Club Championship at Miami University and 10th at the 2000 National Collegiate Club Championship hosted at the King County Aquatic Center by the University of Washington.

The men are immensely satisfied with their results. “Making it to Nationals was a huge step for the Williams Water Polo program,” Finnie said. “Three seasons ago, we did not win a game. To finish with nine wins and a conference championship is truly a testament to how the entire team came together. I am incredibly proud of our guys, and girl, and hope that this experience may usher in a new era of success.”

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