Sometimes Third Place Feels Like First Place

Wow, it is hard to believe that it has already been a month since our last tournament. Between the papers, exams, practices, projects, and games this fall has really flown by. Along with Autumn, so too has the New England’s Conference Season sped by before our eyes.

Two weeks ago (October 15th and 16th) the Terriers journeyed up to Middlebury, Vermont to compete in the second New England Conference regular season tournament. Despite a 6:00 am departure from Boston, the team entered the majestic state of Vermont ready to play.

The Terries first faced the weekend’s host Middlebury College. Although Middlebury put a bit of a fight in the first quarter, the Panthers were simply unable to generate goals against BU’s aggressive press defense. BU coast to an easy first victory of the weekend with a score of 14-6. Unfortunately this would be the Terrier’s only victory of the weekend.

Next the BU faced the B-Line rival Boston College. The two teams had previously faced off in a pre-season scrimmage at BU’s Fitrec Center. BC dominated the scrimmage winning with an unofficial score of about 12-4. At the Yale tournament, BC proved that they were the team to beat going 4-0 beating Yale and Dartmouth in decisive battles. Despite the Eagle’s recent success, the Terriers came into the game prepared for battle. Throughout the first three quarters, BU and BC remained in a deadlock, often exchanging leads. Despite the Terrier’s best defensive efforts, the Eagles were able to pull away in the fourth quarter, leading BU to lose 8-6.

Exhausted from their battle with BC, the Terriers returned almost less than an hour later for their third game of the day, this time against Wesleyan University. The Cardinals took advantage of the Terriers’ weariness and jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the first quarter. The Terriers, surprised by Wesleyan’s renewed aggressiveness, attempted to make up their deficit. Unfortunately the Cardinals were just too much for the tired Terriers and BU lost their second game of the day to Wesleyan 9-6.

After some Indian food and a goodnight’s rest, the Terrier returned to the pool Sunday morning to play Dartmouth. Due to a car accident on their way to the game, Dartmouth was left with only about half of their team. Despite their lack of substitutes, Dartmouth still made a formidable opponent for the Terriers. Once again BU and Dartmouth spent the game exchanging leads. Unfortunately BU was just simply unable to produce goals and lost their third game of the weekend 7-5.

With only a week until the championship, many across the New England Conference saw BU’s 1-3 weekend as death sentence. But the Terrier’s took pain from the weekend and turned into motivation to prove themselves as one of the elite teams in the area. After a week of intense practice and film sessions, BU returned to Connecticut ready to compete in New England Championships.

BU open their championship weekend with a game against new foe, Wesleyan. After losing to the weekend’s host only a week prior, the Terriers were hungry for revenge. With a fast moving offense and debilitating defense the 4th seeded BU was able to shut down the 5th seeded Wesleyan early and win their first game of the championships 10-5.

Feeding off the energy from their Wesleyan victory, the Terriers came into their next with high energy and determination to knock off Yale University, the tournament’s 1st seeded team. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs also came into the game looking for a victory. Throughout the game, Yale used its players speed to score quick counter-attack goals. Unable to control the Bulldogs’ counter-attacks the Terriers fell to Yale for the second time this season 12-4.

After a restful evening, BU returned to New England Conference action Sunday morning energetic and determined to qualify for the championship final. The only thing standing in their way was a game against Dartmouth. Once again the evenly match teams participated in a defensive battle in which neither team seemed able to score. After a tough game, Dartmouth was able to pull ahead in the match’s waning minutes beating BU with a score of 5-3. With the victory, Dartmouth earned a berth to the championship final where they would face ivy rival Yale. BU, on the other hand was exiled to the third place game where they would face none other than rival BC.

Determined to prove themselves as a legitimate team, the Terriers entered the game with all guns firing. BU jumped to an early 5-0 lead over the Eagles in the first quarter. By halftime the Terriers had expanded the lead to 8-1. Determined not to go down without a fight, BC charged in the second half. Fortunately thanks to skillful defense and careful offensive strategy the Terriers were able to hold their lead and earn a final victory over BC 10-7. This victory marked the second straight year the Terriers finished in Third Place at the CWPA New England Conference Championships.

Were we disappointed that we did not win the whole championship? Maybe a little, but not only had we placed in an league that had grown competitively by leaps and bounds. We had also beaten our rival who had beaten us mercilessly less than a month earlier. Sure, first place and a berth to the national championships in Atlanta Georgia would have been awesome. All I know is that I have never been so happy as I was at that moment when we were all jumping around in the warm-up pool with my teammates, waiting for someone to take a picture to commemorate our victory. It’s amazing how sometimes a third place victory over Boston College can feel like an Olympic gold medal.

CWPA New England Conference 3rd Place!
CWPA New England Conference 3rd Place!

Sadly our third place victory also marked the final official CWPA tournament for seniors Andrew Ajemian(CAS 12), Andrew Matsas(CAS 12), David Saxon(CAS 12), and Biomedical-Engineering Grad Student Kevin Schwann. These players will be sorely missed. Once again thank you seniors(and Kevin) for your time, dedication, and friendship to the Boston University Men’s Water Polo Club.

-Colin O’Neill
Club Secretary

Author: bumpolo

The Boston University Mens Water Polo Team is a student run club program. The team competes against other teams in the New England Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA). Questions? Contact us at or show up to one of our practices.

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