Navy Water Polo Aims For Fourth Straight Eastern Title This Weekend
ANNAPOLIS, Md. --
The No. 12-ranked and top-seeded Navy water polo team begins its
quest for its fourth straight CWPA???Eastern Championship on
Friday, when it faces off against the North's No. 4 seed, Iona, at
11:30 am in Cambridge, Mass., on the campus of MIT. The semifinals
will be played Saturday, with Sunday's title game scheduled for
2:30 pm. The winner of the Eastern title receives an automatic bid
to the NCAA???Tournament on Dec. 5-6, in Princeton, N.J.
Navy enters the tournament with a 20-8 overall record, the Mids' 24th 20-win season in 28 varsity seasons and 16th 20-win season in the last 17 years. The Mids are on a hot streak, boasting a nine-game win streak dating back to a 10-7 loss to ninth-ranked UC???Irvine on Oct. 11. During Navy's current three-year run as Eastern titleists, The Mids have sported two different winning streaks of 11 (2006) and 16 (2007)???wins in a row. Last year, the Mids were defeated in the Southern title game by Princeton, but returned the favor in the Eastern title game in Annapolis.
"This is obviously a big weekend and its the culmination of all our hard work and what we play for,"???said Navy head coach Mike Schofield, who is looking for his 10th Eastern Championship. Schofield's nine are already the most in Eastern Championship history. "We are healthy, rested and excited to play this weekend in what should be a fantastic tournament. Every team leaves everything it has in the pool, and we will need to do that to be successful this weekend. We have had good weeks of practice and are focused on what needs to be done."
The Mids have won nine Eastern titles overall, two more than second-place Massachusetts' seven. In addition, the Mids are searching for their fourth straight Eastern title, something that has not been done since Massachusetts won four straight in 1993-96. Only one other team besides UMass, Bucknell (1977-80), has won four straight Eastern titles. No program has ever won five titles in a row.
"I'm sure its in the back of the minds, especially the seniors, but it's not something we have really talked about,"???said Schofield, who owns a 551-215 record in his 25th year at Navy. "Our focus is on the one in front of us, not the ones behind us. We are going to take it one quarter at a time and see what happens."
The Mids will open the tournament against Iona on Friday at 11:30, then will play either Fordham or Johns Hopkins on Saturday. Sunday's opponent will be from the quartet of Brown, Bucknell, MIT or Princeton. Navy owns a 9-0 record in the Easterrn Championship (40-0 all-time)???against Iona. In fact, against Navy's three possible opponents in the first two rounds, Navy is 95-1 all-time against the three teams.
Leading the Mids' offense is a pair of sophomores in Stevie Ray and Kyle Wertz. Ray has 65 points (47 g, 18 a), while Wertz, who has picked it up as of late, has 64 points (48 g, 16 a). Senior Johnny Meiners has 54 points (36 g, 18 a), while Luke Baldwin (25 g, 21 a, 46 pts.), Kevin Bell (25 g, 17 a, 42 pts.)???and Conor Handley (23 g, 7 a, 30 pts.)???have at least 30 points each. Navy has a shot to have five 50-point scorers for the first time since 1997.
Brett Rajchel has stopped 177 shots in goal and has 436 in his career, the seventh most in school history.
Navy owns a 60-21 all-time record in 27 Eastern Tournament appearances. The Mids won titles in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Release courtesy Navy Athletic Communications