Nov. 19, 2011
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The 15th-ranked Navy water polo team outscored 18th-ranked Brown 4-1 in the fourth quarter to rally for a 12-10 victory in the CWPA Eastern Semifinals held Saturday evening at Harvard. The win was Navy's eighth in a row and improves Navy's record to 24-6 overall.
The win also advances Navy into the CWPA Eastern Finals tomorrow with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line. Navy has tied a league record with its seventh straight appearance in the league finals and is looking for its first Eastern crown since 2008. A win on Sunday would give Navy its 10th Eastern title and its 15th NCAA Tournament appearance.
"We did not take a lead until two minutes gone in fourth quarter. Brown was very tough and was ready for us and then some. You have to give credit to Brown. They really gave us a test," said Navy head coach Mike Schofield. "We dug ourselves a hole early and kept digging. We finally settled down some and played to our capabilities. We were a little bit deeper on the bench to make the second half different."
Navy trailed 7-5 at halftime and were still behind 9-8 after three quarters when the Mids started their rally. Paul Pedrotty tied the game at 9-9 just 24 seconds into the fourth quarter and Kyle Wertz gave Navy the lead for good at 10-9, 54 seconds later.
Jesse Walker pushed the lead to 11-9 with 5:10 to play before Brown cut the margin to one at 11-10 with 3:29 to play. But Wertz tallied an insurance goal with just 23 seconds left to give Navy the 12-10 victory.
Brown led by as many as three goals in the first half and held an 8-6 cushion midway through the third quarter before Navy clamped down.
"These guys have come back from four, five and six goals down, so we know that we can do it. We don't want to have to do that, but it's good to know we can," said Schofield. "Some guys struggled early, but they kept their composure and didn't hang heads and gave us a boost in the second half when we needed it."
Wertz continued his offensive onslaught with another eight points on five goals and three assists. In Navy's two wins in the tournament, Wertz has scored 16 points (11 g, 5 a). Paul Pedrotty added three goals and Conor Handley added two goals and one assists.
Anthony Gutierrez was credited with eight saves and added three assists in goal. Schofield also gave credit on the defensive end to Cort Jones.
"Cort Jones came in for Darren McKay when he got into foul trouble and really did a nice job on Brown's All-American from Serbia. He kept us in the game defensively," added Schofield. "Gutierrez also had several big saves in the second half for us."
Navy will now face rival Princeton in Sunday's finals, beginning at 2:30 pm on the campus of Harvard University. It will be the fourth meeting this year between the two teams, with Princeton owning a 2-1 advantage. The Tigers won a pair of overtime decisions in the regular season, but the Midshipmen turned the tables in the finals of the CWPA Southern Division tournament with a 10-5 decision.
# GO NAVY #