ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy water polo team (2-2) split a pair of games on the second and final day of the 2022 Navy Open at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, Md. Behind a pair of hat tricks from Michael Heller (Menlo Park, Calif.) and Travis Berzins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), the Midshipmen posted a 16-11 victory over Cal Lutheran (2-2). Navy closed out the tournament against No. 1 Cal (4-0), dropping a 24-8 decision to the defending National Champion.

“It was a good day today,” head coach Luis Nicolao. “We had a dogfight today against Cal Lu, but got some big-time performances that helped lead us to a win. Against Cal, I thought we battled hard and were competitive for a bit. They are the defending National Champion so we knew they would be tough. I am proud of our guys for how they fought today. It was the first weekend of the year and there is still a lot of water polo left to be played.”

Credit: Navy Athletics

Offensively, Navy had 13 different players score, including five that netted multiple goals. Heller led all scorers, finishing the day with five goals, while Berzins found the back of the net four times. Will Clark (Laguna Beach, Calif.) added three goals, while Tommy McKnew (Tiburon, Calif.) and Connor Simpson (San Rafael, Calif.) chipped in two scores apiece.

Defensively, the Midshipmen tallied 24 saves on the day with Caden Capobianco (Laguna Beach, Calif.) notching 19 saves, individually. The junior registered 15 stops in a complete-game victory over Cal Lutheran. Capobianco posted four saves in one half of play against No. 1 Cal, before giving way to Jack Hightower (San Diego, Calif.). Against the top-ranked Golden Bears, Hightower recorded five saves in one half of work.

Navy returns to action next weekend as the Midshipmen travel to Princeton, N.J. for the annual Princeton Invitational. The Mids will take on Santa Clara, Iona, and St. Francis Brooklyn in the two-day tournament.

Game 1 Recap: Navy 16, Cal Lutheran 11
Behind a pair of hat tricks by Heller and Berzins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Navy opened the day with a 16-11 victory over Cal Lutheran.

Heller and Berzins both posted their first collegiate hat tricks with Heller closing out the game with four goals and Berzins notching three scores. All total, 10 different Midshipmen scored goals in the game, including Rory Begin (Bakersfield, Calif.) who netted his first collegiate goal.

The duo’s effort was matched defensively as Capobianco registered 15 saves en route to the victory. Capobianco and Berzins added three steals apiece to pace the defense.

Navy led 5-3 through the end of the first quarter with five different Mids netting goals. In the second quarter, the Midshipmen extended their lead to 9-6 thanks to a second goal by Berzins and scores by three other Mids.

Berzins completed his hat trick in the third quarter, helping Navy to a 12-9 lead through three quarters. Heller scored his third and fourth goals in the fourth quarter to help secure the win, 16-11.

Game 2 Recap: #1 Cal 24, Navy 8
McKnew and Simpson scored two goals apiece, but defending National Champion and top-ranked Cal posted a 24-8 victory over Navy in the Mids’ final game of the 2022 Navy Open.

The Golden Bears jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, and went into halftime in front 12-3. Berzins, Simpson, and Danny Taylor (Riverside, Conn.) each netted goals in the second quarter for the Midshipmen.

In the third quarter, the Mids trimmed the margin to five, 13-8. McKnew found the back of the net to start the quarter, but Cal responded with a goal. Navy used a 4-0 run to cut into the Golden Bears’ lead. Clark started the run with a goal and Simpson followed with his second score of the contest. Heller fired a long-range shot that slipped by the goalie. McKnew closed the gap to 13-8 with his second score of the quarter. Cal closed the game with an 11-0 run to earn the 24-8 win.


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