March 4, 2007

Bears Sweep Wagner, Bucknell on First Day of ECAC Championship

March 4, 2007

Cambridge, MA - By surviving a pair of tight games, the Brown women's water polo team (5-1) advanced to the championship game of the ECAC Championship at Harvard on Saturday. The third-seeded Bears defeated sixth-seed Wagner for the second time this season, 12-11, before toppling second-seed Bucknell, 12-9. On Sunday, the Bears will face #18 Princeton, the tournament's top seed.

Freshman Lauren Presant (Poway, CA) led the Bears with seven goals over the two games, leading the team with three ejections drawn against Bucknell. Senior Elizabeth Balassone (Los Altos, CA) was right behind with five goals, followed by freshman Sarah Glick (Bonita, CA), who had four goals, all in the first game.

Presant and junior Alexis Blaxberg (Miami, FL) got the Bears out to a 3-2 lead after one quarter against Wagner. Presant opened the scoring with a six-on-five goal less than a minute in, then put her team up 2-1 after a Seahawk goal. Blaxberg did the same at 2:03 after another Wagner score. In the second quarter, Brown began building a lead. Glick scored twice, including on a five-meter penalty shot drawn by Presant, and senior Paige Lansing (Newport Beach, CA) scored once to make the score 6-2. A six-on-five goal by Glick made it 7-4 before Wagner scored with 48 seconds left, making the halftime score 7-5.

At the start of the third, Brown again extended its lead only to see the Seahawks come clawing back. Balassone scored from two-meters, senior Claire Angyal (Sydney, Australia) converted a six-on-five opportunity, and Glick sent home a penalty shot drawn by junior Emily Schwartz (Miami, FL) to make the score 10-5, but Wagner recovered with three of its own in the third, then one in the fourth, to cut the lead to one. Bruno held on, as Presant and senior Caitlin Fahey (Seattle, WA) traded goals with the Seahawks for the final 12-11 tally.

Fahey had three assists and two ejections drawn, with Glick and Balassone also drawing two ejections each. Freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Laing (Ann Arbor, MI) blocked 10 shots in the cage.

The Bucknell semifinal game was also a tight contest, until the Bears were able to pull away late in the game. Balassone, Presant, sophomore Rory Stanton (Danville, CA), and Schwartz scored in the first period, giving Brown a 4-3 lead. After a Bison goal tied the game early in the second, Presant scored twice and Fahey once for a three-goal Bear lead, but Bucknell answered back with two more before the half.

A Balassone goal at 5:38 and a Bison tally at 5:03 in the third quarter made it 8-7 Brown, at which point the Bears pulled away, not allowing a goal over the next 12 minutes. Presant scored at 2:53 in the third period, with goals by Balassone, Lansing and Fahey making the score 12-7 with 58 seconds remaining. The Bison scored twice in the final minute, but the game was well out of hand by that point.

Laing stopped six shots and had two steals in the cage against the Bison. Blaxberg and Balassone each drew two ejections, while Fahey had two more assists.

The Bears' championship tilt with Princeton is at 2 p.m. on Sunday.