ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The 17th-ranked Navy water polo team begins CWPA Southern Division play this weekend by hosting Bucknell and Princeton at Macdonough Hall in Annapolis. The Midshipmen take on the Bison at 2:00 PM, before battling 15th-ranked Princeton at 7:30 PM. Admission is free to all Navy water polo contests.
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The Mids enter the contest with a 10-0 record while outscoring their opponents by a 223 to 70 margin (22.3 to 7.0 per game). However, Navy has yet to face a ranked opponent and will do so this weekend in taking on the defending Eastern champs, the 15th-ranked Princeton Tigers.
Navy has scored over 20 goals seven times already this year but faces a stiff challenge from both Bucknell and Princeton. The Bison have allowed 104 goals in nine games (11.6 goals per game) while having faced five ranked opponents already. Princeton, meanwhile, has allowed just 86 goals in eight games (10.8 per game) while facing ranked foes California, UCLA and Brown to date.
The Midshipmen have looked dominant on offense so far, having 10 players score at least 15 points already this year. Leading the way is senior Paul Pedrotty with 46 points on a team-best 32 goals and 14 assists. Erich Schwamb follows with 28 points on 13 goals and a team-high 15 assists. Jesse Walker has contributed 20 points (14 g, 6 a) and Jack Finch has added 19 points (7 g, 12 a).
Defensively, Anthony Gutierrez has played in six games, recording a team-best 31 saves against 17 goals allowed for a .646 save percentage. All seven Navy keepers have played in at least four games. Tyler Barker and freshman Caleb Lintz have contributed 25 and 21 saves, respectively.
Bucknell enters the weekend with a 4-5 record, but all five of its losses have come to ranked teams, including a pair of one-goal decisions to St. Francis, N.Y. Alex Nowlin paces the Bison with 29 points (10 g, 19 a), while Stefan Aleksic has added 28 points (17 g, 11 a). Matt Napleton has played the majority of time in goal, stopping 78 shots against 75 goals allowed for a .510 save percentage.
Princeton comes in with a 5-3 record with losses to three ranked teams in UCLA, California and Brown. Sophomore Sam Butler paces the Tigers with 28 points (10 g, 18 a) and was named the CWPA Southern Division Player of the Week on Tuesday for his role in the North-South Invitational last weekend. Drew Hoffenberg has 21 goals to lead Princeton while Matt Weber has added 12 tallies. Ben Dearborn has 53 saves against 46 goals allowed for a .535 save percentage.
Navy leads the all-time series with Bucknell, 75-12, but is just 2-2 in the last four meetings with the Bison.
Navy leads the series with Princeton, 53-24, but the Tigers have won five of the last eight meetings including a 10-7 decision in the CWPA Eastern Championship game last year.
Navy will hit the road next weekend to play five games in California, beginning on Thursday night with a match-up at nationally-ranked Long Beach State.