LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Svetozar Stefanovic (So., Belgrade, Serbia/Russian Embassy) scored six times for No. 20 Brown University, but 2008 Eastern Championship Most Valuable Player Kyle Wertz (Jr., San Diego, Calif./Westlake) bombarded the Bears' cage with five markers to lead the No. 18 ranked Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy to a 15-9 victory over Bruno in the opening round of the 2010 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.
The Midshipmen advance to a rubber-match meeting with a familar foe, No. 15 and Southern Division champion Princeton University, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 20 in the semfinals. In 2010, Navy is 1-1 against the Tigers, falling in their first meeting (7-6 L) and picking up the victory (7-6 W OT) in their most recent clash.
Navy, which finished third at the Southern Division Championship tournament this year, could pick up sweet revenge for last year's Eastern Championship title game at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as Princeton upset the Midshipmen 9-6 for the league championship and the CWPA's automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship tournament hosted by Princeton.
Against the Bears, Navy saw a close game explode into a six-goal victory thanks to an 8-5 scoring advantage in the second half.
However, in the first half, the Midshipmen saw themselves fall into an early hole as Gordon Hood (Sr., Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad) split the Navy defense on a 6-on-5 chance just 48 seconds into the first period for a quick 1-0 Brown lead.
Navy pulled even as Wertz worked the Bears' defense to deposit his first marker of the day at 6:58, but Stefanovic responded for Brown at 5:44 to return Bruno to a 2-1 lead.
The lead lasted for 18 seconds as Stevie Ray (Jr., Baytown, Texas/Ross S. Sterling) vaulted a shot into the cage at 5:26 to tie the game before finishing a pass from Wertz at 4:04 on a man-up opportunity to give the Midshipmen the lead for good at 3-2.
Conor Handley (Jr., Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) added to the lead before the end of the period as he collected a quick feed from Jeff Davis (Jr., La Verne, Calif./Bonita) with 50 seconds glowing on the clock for a 4-2 Navy lead after eight minutes of play.
The second period began and ended with Wertz as he finished a long outlet pass at 7:01 to make it 5-2 and concluded the frame by rifling a shot into the cage on a man-up bid with 11 seconds on the clock as the Mids outscored the Bears 3-2 to carry a 7-4 lead into intermission.
Following Wertz's opening tally of the period, James McNamara (Fr., Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) slipped behind his defender to put Brown on the board at 5:48. Stefanovic followed McNamara's strike with a successful five-meter penalty shot at 4:01 to pull to within 5-4.
However, Navy torpedoed the Bears' hopes of a first-half rally as Kyle McGhie (Sr., Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor) drove in from the left wing to bury a shot into the twine at 2:03 to make it 6-4 before Wertz finished off the first half damage with 11 seconds remaining for a 7-4 game at the break.
Brown inched closer in the third period as Stefanovic whipped a feed from Brandon Yoshimura (Sr., Haverford, Pa./Haverford School) at 2:07 to move to within 7-5. Navy countered with a blast by Luke Baldwin (Sr., La Grange Park, Ill./Fenwick) from nine-meters out the richocheted off the right post and into the cage at 1:50.
The Bears would not be denied, however, as Cyrus Mojdehi (So., La Jolla, Calif./Bishops School) grabbed a pass at the top of the offensive zone and broke down the left-wing to bury a point-blank shot past Navy goalie Anthony Gutierrez (So., Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) at 1:19 to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Navy and Brown finished the period with another salvo of scores as Wertz put home another tally at 1:02 and Stefanovic rocketed his second five-meter penalty shot goal of the game into the cage with 44 seconds remaining in the period for a 9-7 game through 24 minutes of action.
Facing the potential of a Brown comeback, the Mids went to a team approach receiving solo strikes from six different players to outscore Brown 6-2 in the fourth period to take the six goal victory.
Baldwin started the scoring spree by converting on a 6-on-5 chance at 7:24 before Wertz cocked and fired in a shot from the right side at 6:38 to push the lead out to 11-7. Navy continued to barrage Brown goalie Walter Shockley (Fr., Diamond Bar, Calif./Damien) with shots as Jordan Carter (Sr., Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Groves) tipped in a pass from Darren McKay (Jr., Wilton Manors, Fla./Northeast) at 6:06, Handley finished a pass from McGhie at 5:40 and Ray blitzed the Bears with a man-up goal at 4:44 to make it a 14-7 game.
Scott Cotton (Jr., Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad) finished Navy's run with another man-up goal at 4:05 off a pass from Erich Schwamb (So., Orange, Calif./El Modena) to stake the Mids to a 15-7 lead.
Brown shaved the lead down to six goals before the final horn as Stefanovic added his third five-meter penalty shot of the day (3:31) and scored on a man-up opportunity (00:13) for the 15-9 final score.
Gutierrez picked up the win for the Navy Blue & Gold with seven saves, while Shockley took the loss for Bruno with five stops.
Brown, which placed second in the Northern Division, will meet Northern Division fourth place finisher MIT at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday with a berth in the fifth place game on the line.
|No. 18 United States Naval Academy
|No. 20 Brown University||2||2||3||2||--||9|
Svetozar Stefanovic (6), Gordon Hood, James McNamara, Cyrus
Navy Goals: Kyle Wertz (5), Stevie Ray (3), Luke Baldwin (2), Conor Handley (2), Kyle McGhie, Jordan Carter, Scott Cotton
Saves: Brown - Walter Shockley (5) ; Navy - Anthony Gutierrez (7)
Exclusions: Brown - 7 ; Navy - 11
Advantage Opportunities: Brown - 6-for-11 ; Navy - 5-for-7
Sprints: Brown - 0-for-4 ; Navy - 4-for-4
Officials: Alex Stankevitch, Hadi Farid
Cyrus Mohjdehi scores versus Anthony Gutierrez