LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Marko Gencic (So., Belgrade, Serbia/Sports Gymnasium) scored three goals in the title tilt, but Boris Plavsic (Sr., Belgrade, Serbia/ETS "Rade Koncar") walked away with tournament Most Valuable Player honors as the No. 13-ranked Terriers of St. Francis College defeated No. 18 the United States Naval Academy 8-4 to capture the 2010 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at Bucknell's Kinney Natatorium.
The title marks the Terriers second in six tries as the team previously captured the 2005 title (10-9 W vs. Navy at Harvard University) and fell in the 1999 (vs. the University of Massachusetts), 2000 (13-12 L OT SD vs. Navy at Brown University), 2004 (3-2 L OT SD vs. Princeton at Bucknell) and 2007 (11-7 L vs. Navy at Harvard) tournaments.
SFC drew first blood in the game as the Terriers won the opening sprint and found Gencic who tossed in a shot 33 seconds into the game for a quick 1-0 lead.
Navy responded nearly three minutes later when Kyle Wertz (Jr., San Diego, Calif./Westlake) rattled the cage with a blast at 4:48 before Jordan Carter (Sr., Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Groves) connected on a shot at 1:12 to place the Midshipmen in front 2-1 through a period of play.
The margin expanded to 3-1 in the dawning seconds of the second period as Wertz struck again at 7:44, but the Terriers' offense escaped Navy's pressing defense for man-up goals by Plavsic and Filip Sasic (Jr., Zagreb, Croatia/Titus Brezouazki) at 7:18 and 4:15, respectively, to knot the game game at three-to-three prior to halftime.
Neither team could crack the other's defense for much of the third period until Stefan Gencic (Sr., Belgrade, Serbia/Tenth HS Mihajlo Pupin) netted the go ahead goal at 2:24 to put the Terriers ahead to stay at 4-3.
Thanks to the goalkeeping of Nikola Djuric (Sr., Belgrade, Serbia/IV Belogradska Gimnazjia) who recorded two of his three saves in the game during the fourth period, St. Francis was able to build the lead out to keep Navy at bay down the stretch.
Following a 6-on-5 strike by Alexander Pantic (Jr., Belgrade, Serbia/Sport High School) at 6:15 to make it 5-3 for the eventual game-winning strike, Marko Gencic struck again for a man-up tally at 4:38 to put the Mids down by three. With the shot clock winding down, Plavsic cushioned the lead further with his second marker of the day to build the Terriers' lead to a nearly insurmountable 7-3 margin with 3:37 glowing on the game clock.
However, Navy refused to go silently into the night and offseason as Carter crushed a ball past Djuric to pull the Midshipmen to within three at 7-4 with 2:46 on the clock.
But Marko Gencic responded in kind for Saint Francis, beating Navy's Anthony Gutierrez (So., Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic) at 2:23 for the final score of the day in the 8-4 Terriers' victory.
For Navy, the game was historically signifcant as the nine-time Eastern Champion (1986-88, 1990, 2000, 2003 and 2006-08), Navy is now 9-7 in Eastern title tilts and finished 0-2 versus the Terriers this season after falling 10-8 during the regular season. In addition, the Mids are now 2-2 against the Terriers in Eastern title games taking the 2007 and 2000 meetings, while falling in the 2005 for St. Francis' only previous Eastern Championship.
The first team since the 1981-87 Brown University Bears to reach six or more consecutive Eastern title games, as the Mids appeared in their sixth tilt (2005-10) in a row, Navy stands at 64-23 in 29 Eastern tournament appearances. Overall, Navy recorded its 23rd Top Three finish as the team previously finished as the runner-up six times and in third place seven times with nine titles before this year.
Following the championship, Plavsic was announced as tournament Most Valuable Player, while Navy head coach Mike Schofield picked up the Dick Russell Coach of the Tournament award on the campus where the league's founding father coached.
Brown University's James McNamara (Fr., Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) was awarded the Rookie of the Year award for outstanding play by a student-athlete making his first appearance at the CWPA Eastern Championship.
|No. 13 Saint Francis College||1||2||1||4||--||8|
|No. 18 United States Naval Academy||2||1||0||1||--||4|
Navy Goals: Jordan
Carter (2), Kyle Wertz (2)
SFC Goals: Marko Gencic (3), Boris Plavsic (2), Stefan Gencic, Alexander Pantic, Filip Sasic
Saves: Navy - Anthony Gutierrez (1) ; SFC - Nikola Djuric (3)
Exclusions: Navy - 11 ; SFC - 9
Advantage Opportunities: Navy - 0-for-9 ; SFC - 4-for-11
Sprints: Navy - 2-for-4 ; SFC - 2-for-4
Cards: YC - Navy
(Mike Schofield, HC)
Officials: Michael Goldenberg, Alex Stankevitch
Kyle Wertz looks to shoot against Alexander Pantic
St. Francis fans celebrate a goal
Coach Igor Samardzjia gives instructions in the fourth period
2010 CWPA Eastern
Champion - St. Francis College