Sept. 2, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The No. 18 Santa Clara men's water polo team opened up the 2006 season with a pair of tough setbacks Saturday at the Navy Labor Day Open from the U.S. Naval Academy. The Broncos dropped an 8-3 decision to No. 13 Navy in the morning before falling 9-8 to No. 17 Bucknell in a hard-fought battle that came down to the final possession in the afternoon.
SCU will return to the pool tomorrow morning for a 6:10 a.m. match against George Washington before closing out tournament play against John Hopkins University at 2:20 p.m. PT.
"We feel we have a relatively young team, and although we came out here to win these games, we knew going in that it was going to be a learning experience," said head coach Keith Wilbur. "It's fun to play some different competition and good to play some ranked teams, and what we're trying to do here is build our team to prepare for conference games later on down the road."
Saturday's opener against the 13th-ranked Midshipmen actually saw the Broncos take a 3-1 lead going into halftime, with sophomore Jack Wall accounting for all three Bronco goals. But the Navy counter-attack was too much in the second half, propelling them to seven goals while holding SCU scoreless.
"We played with them real well in the first half, but we were kind of gassed in the second half," said Wilbur of the Navy contest. "Navy has a really fast team, and they started getting their offense going on the counter after halftime. It was tough playing a game like that at the beginning of the season, but we'll get better at it as the season progresses."
Later in the day the team took to the water once more to face the No. 17 Bucknell Bison. Santa Clara got a strong team performance as seven different players scored in the game, highlighted by freshman utility Mike Sorgenfrei's two goals, but in the end a Bucknell save on the final possession sent the Broncos to the 9-8 loss.
"The Bucknell game was tough, both teams were a little tired going in from the previous games," noted Wilbur. "But it was good for our guys to face some good competition against good players. Losing close games like these is a little frustrating, but we know that with the work we put in the rest of the way, things are going to pay off for us in the end."
SCU goalkeepers Robert Callahan and Jon Young split time in the cage Saturday and both turned in solid performances against a pair of ranked teams. Callahan posted eight blocks and Young six against Navy, while each goalie blocked four shots in the afternoon contest.
Following tomorrow's contests, the Broncos will return home to the Leavey Pool to host the annual Alumni Game on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 12 p.m.