PRINCETON, N.J. -- Tim Wenzlau (Sr., Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) scored four times to claim Player of the Game honors for powering Southern Division Third Place finisher No. 20 Princeton University to a 10-7 victory over Northern Division runner-up No. 14 Brown University in the opening round of the 2012 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at home in DeNunzio Pool.
The victory avenges a 10-9 loss by Princeton to the Bears during the regular season and advances the defending CWPA Eastern Champion Tigers to a 4:30 p.m. showdown with Southern Division Champion Bucknell University, a 15-13 victor over Harvard University in the first game of the tournament, in the semifinals on Saturday, November 17. Brown falls into the consolation side of the bracket and will meet Harvard at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday with a berth in the fifth place game at stake.
In a rare meeting of perennial powers in the conference, the Bears and Tigers slugged it out on the scoreboard and the water as the teams combined for two yellow cards, 24 ejections and two misconducts for violence in a clash of Ivy League institutions.
Brown jumped on the scoreboard first as Nick Deaver (So., Orinda, Calif./Miramonte) converted on a man-up chance with 6:25 left in the first quarter following the ejection of Princeton's Kayj Shannon (So., Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake School). The Tigers answered at 4:43 with a strike by Wenzlau and gained the lead at 3:35 with a man-up tally by 2011 CWPA Eastern Championship Most Valuable Player Drew Hoffenberg (So., Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./The Bishop's School) following the ejection of Ryan Gladych (Sr., Corona del Mar, Calif./Deerfield Academy).
Bruno answered with 46 seconds on the quarter clock as Cyrus Mojdehi (Sr., La Jolla, Calif./The Bishop's School) took advantage of an ejection call against Tommy Donahue (Sr., Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's) by uncorking a shot on a man-up bid that Princeton goalie Alex Gow (Fr., Portola Valley, Calif./Palo Alto) was unable to stop to balance the scoreboard at two-all through eight minutes of action.
The Bears went back in front 57 seconds into the second quarter as Northern Division Player of the Year Svetozar Stefanovic (Sr., Belgrade, Serbia/Russian Embassy) shook his defender for a strike at 7:03 to place Brown ahead 3-2, but Bradley Wachtell (Fr., Beverly Hills, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) erased the lead with 6:10 on the clock by burying a pass on a man-up opportunity following the ejection of Henry Fox (So., Mercer Island, Wash./Lakeside School).
Princeton gained some breathing room that would factor heavily in the second half of the game as Jack Ruth (Sr., West Lawn, Pa./Wilson) rifled in an advantage score at 5:30 after the ejection of Dean Serure (Sr., Coral Gables, Fla./Ransom Everglades) to regain the lead at 4-3. Billy Tifft (Sr., San Diego, Calif./The Bishop's School) tipped the scales in favor of the Tigers nearly three minutes later with an even-strength strike with 2:43 remaining in the half to provide Princeton a two-goal lead at 5-3.
Brown closed the gap to 5-4 prior to the halftime horn via a strike by McNamara with 2:24 on the clock, but the Bears received a blow at the 1:36 mark following the game-exclusion of McNamara following his third foul via a misconduct for violence.
The misconduct would prove deadly for Brown as Kurt Buchbinder (Jr., Long Beach, Calif./The Chadwick School) unleashed a blast at 1:20 that Bears' goalie Andrew Brown (So., La Grange, Ill./Lyons Township) was unable to react to in time for a 6-4 Tigers' lead at the break.
Following the issuance of a yellow card to the Brown bench during halftime, Princeton struck again with 6:34 left in the third quarter courtesy a blast by Wenzlau to make it 7-4. Bruno attempted to close the gap as Mojdehi cashed in on the ejection of Tifft for a man-up marker at 6:12, but Wenzlau slayed the Bears' defense one more time by breaking free for a score a 3:08 to make it 8-5 in favor of Princeton through three periods of play.
Down by three, Brown was unable to find a solution for either the Tigers' defense or offense to open the final quarter as Wenzlau put away his fourth strike of the afternoon at 6:34 to build the margin out to a then game-high three scores (7-4).
Brown moved back within a pair at 6:12 as Mojdehi netted a man-up goal off the ejection of Tifftt, but Wenzlau erased the error by completing a hat-trick with 3:08 on the clock to make it 8-5 in favor of the home squad.
Needing a series of stops to allow the Bears to climb back into the game, Brown saw its hopes of a semifinal appearance dwindle as Hoffenberg howtizered home a man-up score at 6:43 of the fourth quarter after the ejection of Deaver to make it 9-5.
Bruno was able to chip away at the lead over the next three minutes as Mojdehi connected on a natural score and received a yellow card at 5:20 prior to Fox finishing on a man-up chance at 3:15 to pull the Bears within 9-7.
However, Princeton refused to lose as Wenzlau blasted a man-up tally into the cage with 27 seconds on the clock for the back-breaker and a 10-7 final score.
For Princeton, Hoffenberg joined Wenzlau as the lone Tigers' with multiple scores, while Gow made a claim for Player of the Game honors with 15 saves to preserve the victory and another Top Four finish for Princeton.
Mojdehi notched a hat-trick for Brown, while goalie Brown made 10 stops in suffering the loss for Bruno.
--- Courtesy of the CWPA