PROVIDENCE, R.I. – No. 12 Brown University men's water polo defeated No. 10 Princeton University, 13-9, after edging No. 20 St. Francis Brooklyn, 9-8, claiming the top seed at the NWPC Championship on the final day of the regular season at Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center on Sunday.
With the regular season complete, Brown has earned the No. 1 seed and a first round bye at the Northeast Water Polo Conference Championship set for Princeton's DeNunzio Pool from Nov. 18-20. Brown edged No. 2 seed Princeton for the NWPC's top seed due to a higher goal differential against No. 3 seed Harvard.
The Bears captured their third straight regular season conference championship after winning the CWPA Northern Division regular season title in 2014 and 2015.
Brown will open play at the NWPC Championship in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5:00 p.m. against the winner of No. 4 seed St. Francis Brooklyn and No. 5 seed Iona who will play on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The winner of the conference tournament will gain an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.
The Bears (21-7, 8-2 NWPC) built an 8-5 halftime lead and outscored the Tigers (17-8, 8-2 NWPC) 3-1 in the fourth quarter en route to their second win of the day after overcoming an 8-5 deficit in the fourth quarter in the victory over the Terriers (12-12, 5-5 NWPC).
On Sunday, senior Yahel Murvitz-Lahav (Tel Aviv, Israel) led the Bears with six goals and five assists while classmate Jake Wyatt (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) posted four goals and four assists between the two games. Fellow senior Luke Irwin (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) totaled five goals on the day, and senior goalkeeper Luke Weiser (Los Alamitos, Calif.) compiled 22 saves.
Brown swept the regular season series with St. Francis after beating the Terriers 11-10 in sudden victory overtime on Oct. 2 and split the regular season series with Princeton after the Tigers came away with an 11-7 decision on Oct. 1.
Game 1 – No. 12 Brown 9, No. 20 St. Francis Brooklyn 8
Murvitz-Lahav scored three goals – all in the fourth quarter – as No. 12 Brown came from behind to defeat No. 20 St. Francis Brooklyn, 9-8, in its first game of the day on Sunday morning.
Trailing 8-5 early in the fourth quarter, Murvitz-Lahav scored three straight goals to tie the game at 8-8 before Wyatt netted the game-winning goal with 2:54 to play.
Wyatt and Irwin each scored two goals while sophomore Santiago Nunez (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Hudson Rawlings (Murrieta, Calif.) netted one goal apiece. Murvitz-Lahav and sophomore Spencer Carroll (Newport Beach, Calif.) each dished out two assists.
In net, Weiser made 12 saves, including two critical stops inside of the last four minutes.
After St. Francis scored from past 10 meters to pull ahead 8-5 with 7:11 to go in the fourth quarter, Murvitz-Lahav began the Bears' rally with a goal from beyond five meters off a pass from junior Rico Burke (San Mateo, Calif.) just 16 seconds later. Murvitz-Lahav then converted a 5-meter penalty shot to make it 8-7 with 6:20 left.
Murvitz-Lahav knotted the game at 8-8, slotting a shot into the right side of the goal from five meters off a feed from Carroll with 4:23 remaining. On the next possession, Weiser stopped a shot on a 6-on-5 before Wyatt found the back of the net with a skip shot off a pass from junior Tyler Kirchberg (Orinda, Calif.) with 2:54 left after the Bears called a timeout heading into a power play.
Brown's defense held tight over the game's waning moments as Weiser made a one-handed save with 1:40 to go, Burke stole a pass at the 1:10 mark, and Murvitz-Lahav notched a field block on a 6-on-5 shot with 10 seconds left.
The two teams played to a 3-3 tie in the first quarter as Rawlings and Irwin each battled to score goals off rebounds, and Nunez posted a goal from the right wing. The Terriers took a 5-3 lead at halftime after scoring a pair of goals in the second quarter.
St. Francis remained ahead 7-5 through three quarters despite a goal from Irwin at two meters and a tally from Wyatt on the right wing with Murvitz-Lahav assisting on both goals.
Brown swept the regular season series with St. Francis after defeating the Terriers, 11-10, in sudden victory overtime on Oct. 2. The Bears overcame three-goal deficits in the fourth quarter in both contests.
Brown 9, St. Francis Brooklyn 8
St. Francis................ 3…2…2…1…8
Brown Goals: Murvitz-Lahav 3, Irwin 2, Wyatt 2, Nunez, Rawlings.
Brown Saves: Weiser 12.
Game 2 – No. 12 Brown 13, No. 10 Princeton 9
Murvitz-Lahav recorded three goals and three assists, Wyatt registered two goals and four assists, and No. 12 Brown beat No. 10 Princeton, 13-9, in its second game of the day on Sunday afternoon.
After the Tigers cut their deficit to 10-9 early in the fourth quarter, the Bears responded with the final three goals of the contest to finish the weekend with a 3-0 record.
Irwin netted three goals while Burke tallied two goals and three assists. Junior Tommy Bush (Lafayette, Calif.), Rawlings, and freshman Jack Wilson (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) each scored one goal, and Kirchberg and senior Warren Smith (Dallas, Texas) added one assist apiece.
In the cage, Weiser blocked 10 shots for his second double-figure save effort on the day.
Brown opened the game with a 2-0 lead inside of the first 43 seconds as Irwin scored on the inside off a pass from Kirchberg and Burke pocketed a shot into the left side of the goal from five meters. Murvitz-Lahav scored off a feed from Burke in between a pair of Princeton tallies, and Burke finished the quarter's scoring off a pass from Wyatt to give Brown a 4-2 edge after one.
Irwin kept the Bears up 5-3 with a goal on the inside off an assist from Wyatt prior to Princeton pulling within 5-4 with 2:43 left in the half. Wyatt responded with back-to-back goals off passes from Burke and Murvitz-Lahav to push the hosts ahead 7-4. Bush scored on a sidearm shot off a pass inside from Burke to make it 8-4 before Princeton scored with one second left to cut the margin to 8-5 at the break.
The Tigers opened the third quarter with consecutive tallies to trim their deficit to 8-7 with 5:36 left in the period. Murvitz-Lahav countered with a left wing goal from Wyatt with Wilson notching a right wing goal from Murvitz-Lahav to lift Brown to a 10-7 advantage. Princeton closed the frame's scoring to bring it to 10-8 heading to the fourth.
The visitors scored 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Brown shut out the Tigers the rest of the way while scoring three goals. Murvitz-Lahav started the 3-0 run with a goal off a Smith pass before Irwin converted from Murvitz-Lahav and Rawlings scored off a Wyatt feed. Weiser turned aside four shots in the period.
Brown and Princeton split the regular season series, 1-1, after the Tigers took an 11-7 decision in Princeton, N.J., on Oct. 1.
Brown 13, Princeton 9
Brown Goals: Irwin 3, Murvitz-Lahav 3, Burke 2, Wyatt 2, Bush, Rawlings, Wilson
Brown Saves: Weiser 10.