Fordham Edges Out Navy To Win Third Straight Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference Title

Courtesy: Fordham Sports

Lewisburg, Pa. – (November 19, 2023) – Heading into Sunday’s MAWPC Championship final, the 15th-ranked Fordham Rams had history on their mind, as they looked to become the first East Coast squad since Navy to win three consecutive championships. The Rams did make that history, defeating the 18th-ranked Midshipmen, 12-10, for the MAWPC Championship at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

With the win, Fordham secures the MAWPC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Championship for the third straight season.

“Winning three straight championships is very difficult,” said head coach Brian Bacharach. “Our guys worked hard today, stuck to the script, and executed big time in the fourth quarter. I’m so proud of our guys for their effort today and all season long.”

In the third match-up this season between Fordham and Navy, the script was the same as the first two meetings – an extremely tight match that came down to the final quarter.

Fordham got out to the quick start, getting goals from Luca Silvestri and Jacopo Parrella for a 2-0 lead with Balazs Berenyi making it 3-1 in favor of the Rams. Navy picked up the next two goals, but Lucas Nieto Jasny scored with 22 seconds left to put Fordham back on top, 4-3, at the end of the first quarter.

The Midshipmen flipped the script in the second quarter behind two goals by Kiefer Black as they grabbed a 6-5 lead, but Fordham again had a late answer, as Christos Loupakis netted an extra-man goal with 54 seconds left to knot the game at six.

Each team scored twice in the third quarter to set up the deciding fourth quarter all tied at eight. After exchanging goals to start the frame, Silvestri netted his second goal of the game at the 5:38 mark to put Fordham on top, 10-9. Thomas Lercari then made his presence felt, stopping multiple Navy shots to give Fordham a chance to extend the lead.

The Rams got the all-important two-goal edge with 3:04 left when Nieto Jasny netted his second marker of the contest. Fordham put together some stellar defense in the final three minutes and got another tally from Silvestri to lock up the 12-10 win.

Fordham’s George Papanikolaou was selected as the Championship’s MVP, while Bacharach received Coach of the Championship honors. Papanikolaou and Parrella were also selected to the All-Championship First Team, while Silvestri earned a spot on the Second Team.

Fordham now advances to the NCAA Championship, which will be held December 1st through 3rd at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles, California. The bracket for the NCAA Championship was released late Sunday where Fordham will face #2 Cal on December 1st at 7:00 PM Eastern Time.

Courtesy: Navy Sports

LEWISBURG, Pa. – The No. 18 Navy water polo team (21-6) dropped a close 12-10 game to No. 15 Fordham (24-7) in the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference Championship Game on Sunday afternoon at Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg, Pa. on the campus of Bucknell. For his efforts over the weekend, freshman Kiefer Black was named Rookie of the Tournament, while Black, Caden Capobianco, and Aiden Day were each selected First Team All-Tournament.

“I am disappointed for our players,” head coach Luis Nicolao said after the game. “We thought we had a championship team and, honestly, I thought we played well enough to win. Hats off to Fordham. They played a great game and today was a great water polo game.

“I feel bad for our seniors. I know how much they have fought over the years to get us to this point today. They have helped lay the foundation of what Navy water polo is going to be for years to come. For all of the younger guys, I hope the memory of coming this close and coming up short motivates them to work that much harder so we can continue to have great seasons and play for championships.”

Four Midshipmen found the back of the net, tallying 10 goals on the day. Kiefer Black led the way with four goals, while Sam CollingwoodMichael Heller, and Holden Seybold finished with two scores apiece. Black tallied four of Navy’s seven assists, while Day finished with two helpers and Ivan Pang added one.

Defensively, Capobianco registered a complete game at goal for the Midshipmen. The senior team captain finished with 11 saves on the day, closing out the tournament with 36 stops. Capobianco and Collingwood each recorded steals in the game against the Rams, while Collingwood paced the squad with three ejections drawn. Tommy McKnewHenry Williams, Black, Day, and Heller also were credited with ejections drawn.

For the third time this season, Fordham jumped out to an early lead. The Navy defense was able to limit the Rams to just two early goals before Seybold cut the deficit in half, 2-1. The Rams responded with a goal, but back-to-back scores by Black and Collingwood knotted the game at three. Fordham was able to regain the lead, finishing the first period with a 4-3 advantage.

Navy took its first lead of the game in second quarter as Black completed his first-half hat trick with back-to-back goals to start the quarter. Fordham was able to tie the game at 5-5 as Capobianco came out of the cage to try to steal a ball, but came up just short, leaving the Rams an open net for the game-tying goal. The Midshipmen regained the lead on the following possession as Heller skipped a ball under the keeper’s arm to put the Mids in front, 6-5. The Rams were able to score the equalizer and send the game into halftime knotted at 6-6.

In the third quarter, Fordham started the scoring to regain a one-goal advantage. The lead was short lived as Heller knotted the score at 7-7 and Black gave Navy its third lead of the game. The Rams evened the game with a score to send the game into the final quarter of regulation tied, 8-8.

Fordham started the fourth quarter with a goal, but Seybold countered with a game-tying score. The Rams notched back-to-back scores to take an 11-9 lead. Trailing by two, the Midshipmen had opportunities, but came up just short. Black hit the post, while Collingwood had his shot saved at point blank range. The following possession resulted in a turnover. The ensuing Fordham possession saw Capobianco leave the goal to give the Mids an extra defender. The Rams were able to break the coverage and score a goal on the empty net, giving the defending champions a 12-9 advantage. On Navy’s possession Capobianco advanced the ball to give the Mids an extra offensive player. His shot was blocked, but Collingwood picked up the rebound and scored to pull Navy to within two, 12-10, but it would not be enough as time expired.

Navy has played in the MAWPC Championship 21 times in program history. The runner-up finish marks the 12th time that the Midshipmen have finished second in the conference tournament. It is the second time Navy has advanced to the Championship Game under Nicolao.

Tournament Schedule
Friday, Nov. 17
Game 1: (2) Navy 19, (7) Johns Hopkins 11

Game 2: (3) Bucknell 7, (6) Mount St. Mary’s 7
Game 3: (4) Wagner 15, (5) George Washington 14

Saturday, Nov. 18
Game 4: (5) George Washington 16, (7) Johns Hopkins 8
Game 5: (1) Fordham 23, (4) Wagner 12
Game 6: (2) Navy 10, (3) Bucknell 9
Game 7: (7) Johns Hopkins 14, (6) Mount St. Mary’s 13 (overtime)

Sunday, Nov. 19
Game 8: (5) George Washington 16, (6) Mount St. Mary’s 12
Game 9: (3) Bucknell 10, (4) Wagner 7 (Third Place Game)
Game 10: (1) Fordham 12, (2) Navy 10 (Championship Game)

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