Greenwich Water Polo takes second in State Challenge

The Greenwich Water Polo (GWP) 18-Under boys made their first appearance in the State Challenge a memorable one, winning four games before falling 14-12 to the Navy Aquatic Club in the Championship finale.

The fifth annual tournament, sponsored by American Water Polo, moves annually to different parts of the country, this year locating in Philadelphia at Villanova University and the Haverford School

 

The GWP team won its bracket with an 18-7 win over the Windy City Club of Chicago, and an 18-5 victory over the Navy Aquatic Gold team on Friday.

They opened up on Saturday by beating the Buxmont Bolsheviks of Pennsylvania 13-10. That led to a battle of unbeatens, as Greenwich and Pittsburg were both 3-0 moving into the final bracket game Saturday afternoon.

Greenwich got off to a slow start against Pittsburg, twice falling behind by three goals in the first period, 3-0 and 4-1, with Steve Grune scoring the lone GWP goal. Tim Hardman closed out the quarter to bring the team within two at the end of the period.

The GWP defense buckled down, shutting out the Pittsburg squad in the second quarter, taking the lead on goals by James Baker, Grune and Tyler Triscari.

In the third stanza the two teams traded goals, as Mack Neary kept Greenwich on top 6-5. After Pittsburg tied the game at 6-6, Baker, Triscari and Will Klingner tossed in three straight goals to ice the game, which ended at 9-7. Alex Ekstein was stellar in goal, recording eight saves.

In Sunday’s championship game, the Greenwich boys twice took a two-goal lead in the opening quarter, 3-1 and 4-2, respectively. Baker nailed two shots and Henry McMillan and Chris Miao each scored once. However the lead was short-lived, as Annapolis scored the first four goals of the second period to take a commanding 8-4 lead.

From that point on, Greenwich could only get within three goals for the remainder of the game until the final seconds of the disappointing 14-12 defeat.

Baker and Matthew Fraser both ended the game with four goals, while Grune and Triscari joined McMillan and Miao with single tallies.

Its participation the State Challenge was the final preparation for the USA Water Polo’s Junior Olympics. That tournament will be held in Northern California this year with the boys kicking things off on Saturday. GWP will be sending four boys team to this year’s Junior Olympics.

They will also send out a 14-and-under girls team, with the girls’ portion of the Junior Olympics beginning on Friday, Aug. 3.

 

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