Greenwich High water polo once again Beasts of the East

This past weekend was sweet revenge for the Greenwich High School boys water polo team.

While last year’s squad had another highly successful season, they fell to the Cumberland Valley Eagles during the championship game of the highly competitive Beast of the East Tournament.

This time around, Big Red was looking to bring the title back home to Greenwich and that’s exactly what it did. Competing five times during the two-day tournament, Greenwich played the same Cumberland Valley Eagles team in the title game, and this time came away with the 9-7 victory.

“It was really great for the team because it was such a great team effort,” Greenwich High School head coach Terry Lowe. “All the kids made a real contribution, whether they were the scorers or just playing great defense. The kids came in here wanting to recapture the Beast of the East title. This was something they were psyched up to win because it’s such a big event and it’s our only chance during the year to play the top teams from Pennsylvania and Maryland. We really look forward to this tournament and it’s a very demanding tournament.”

The Beast of the East Tournament, held in Reading Pa., is the largest water polo tournament held annually on the East Coast. With 32 interscholastic boys teams squaring off on the first day, and four teams playing a eight different sites, the Cardinals earned their way into the eight-team championship bracket, cruising to victories in each of its two preliminary games held at the Pottsville Area High School.

Netting two more victories in the single-elimination bracket on Saturday, Greenwich advanced to the championship game to once again battle Cumberland Valley High School for the title.

After Julian Fraser scored the first goal of the game for Greenwich in the championship game, Cumberland Valley answered with three-consecutive goals. Senior captain Will Klingner netted a goal off a rebound, which ended the first period with the Cards within one, 3-2. Twice Matt Fraser tied the game, at 3-3 on a perimeter shot and 4-4 on a power play goal. However, goals by Tyler Triscari and Klingner gave Greenwich a two-goal lead at the half, 6-4.

The two polo powers traded goals in the third period, with Triscari putting his team ahead by two, 7-5.

Cumberland Valley scored first in the final quarter, as the team’s twice traded goals. Greenwich’s Mack Neary’s man-up tally temporarily restored the Cardinal’s two-goal margin. After Cumberland Valley made it a one-goal game, Matt Fraser scored the clincher in the 9-7 championship win. Anchoring the defense, GHS goalie Steve Michaud came up with 11 more saves, including seven in the second half.

“I knew that my teammates wanted to win just as bad as I did,” Klingner said. “I tried to be very vocal during the game to get my team fired up. I think we did a good job playing the mental game and I think the physical game came along after that. I felt like I was a member of this team during this tournament more so than I have before. I think the victory united us more and that we are a core group. We came together as a team.”

In fact, the 2012 championship round of the Beast of the East was nearly a duplicate of the 2011 tournament, as Greenwich faced the same three opponents in each round. The only difference this time was that the Cardinals were able to avenge the 11-6 loss to the Eagles a year ago.

In the quarterfinal game against Souderton High School, Greenwich was down 3-2 after the first quarter, with both of Big Red’s goals coming off the hand of Tyler Triscari. Putting on a dominating performance, Matt Fraser scored four second period goals to help build a 6-3 halftime lead. Matt Fraser scored twice more in the second half while his brother Julian Fraser and Mack Neary each scored once in the 10-7 victory. Michaud notched 10 saves, including a block of a penalty shot.

The victory set Greenwich up with North Allegheny High School, from Wexford, Pa., in the semifinal game, but the contest didn’t start off too well for Big Red, as it fell behind 3-1 by the end of the first period.

With the defense tightening, Greenwich’s Matt Fraser took control of the game on the offensive end, almost single-handedly getting his team back into the game. Scoring all six GHS goals, Matt Fraser tied the game at 6-6 after three quarters.

A fourth period goal by Ben Wurst, off an assist from Matt Fraser, gave the Cards their first lead at 7-6. Matt Fraser’s eighth goal of the game provided a temporary two-goal cushion. After North Allegheny scored to come back to within one, Klingner fired the clinching goal in the 9-7 win.

That earned the Greenwich the right to battle Cumberland Valley High School in the championship game. The Eagles eased their way into the title match with a relatively comfortable 13-8 win over Loyola Blakefield of Towson, Md.

Greenwich High School easily advanced to Saturday’s single-elimination tournament by beating Erie Catholic Prep School 14-2 and LaSalle School, from Wyndmoor, Pa., 15-1. Those two wins moved the Cardinals over to Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pa., for the championship round, which included the eight Friday winners from each site.

As the championship team, Greenwich High was awarded five spots on the All-Tournament squad. Matt Fraser led the selections followed by Michaud, Klingner, Julian Fraser and Triscari. After the five wins, the Cardinals are now 9-0 on the young season.

“We had a tough draw to begin with,” Lowe said. “In my opinion I thought we played the top four teams in the tournament. We rose to the challenge and handled the draw. It was significant for the team. We are a very balanced team that has a lot of depth and has some good, solid players. We don’t want to be a team that’s centered around one star player. We have the talent to score more goals and to distribute the scoring more.”

Throughout the season, Greenwich has been led by senior captain Klingner.

“Everything he does in practice, he does hard,” Lowe said. “Whether it’s the dry land warm-ups, working in the weight room or in the pool, Will will be working hard. He sets a great example for the kids on the team.”

“We are considered the premier team in the East because of the title we just claimed,” Klingner said. “That being said, we are going to be facing some tough competition this season in Canada and against the United States Naval Academy. If we go in there with a clear head and are motivated, I think we could win.”

Michaud has been stellar throughout the season with his aggressive play between the pipes. Lowe said that Michaud can anticipate the play well and also plays with confidence, being able to hold his ground with the best shooters out there.

“We want Steve to have a lot of steals,” Lowe said. “In fact, he had 11 steals over the weekend and some were essential during those big games. He came up with some great saves. He’s not the tallest goalie out there by any means. Playing goalie in the shallow end is a demanding spot for him, but when you get him in the deep end goal, he’s great and had some amazing saves for us there.”

With the Beast of the East tournament now in the rear-view mirror, Greenwich still has plenty to look forward to. Focusing more on the weekend tournaments, GHS will be traveling up to Canada on Oct. 20 for competition in the Montreal Invitational, and to the United States Naval Academy the following weekend for the Annapolis Classic. On Nov. 10, Big Red finishes its season by returning to the Naval Academy and will compete in the Mid-Atlantic Championships.

However, first things first, as the Greenwich High School pool will once again host the nine-team Cardinal Tournament on Oct. 12.

“We are holding our opponents down to six or seven goals a game, so our defense is great,” Lowe said. “Against weaker teams, they are only getting one or two goals against us. They are capable of playing very well together. We aren’t scoring a lot of goals, but when you have your team defense playing really well, it’s good.”

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress