LEWISBURG, Pa. – Tied 9-9 in sudden-death overtime, the Navy water polo team (10-10, 5-4) used a golden goal by Chris Kim (Los Angeles, Calif.) to record a 10-9 Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) victory over Bucknell (11-9, 8-3) on Sunday afternoon at Kinney Natatorium.
“What a game,” head coach Luis Nicolao said. “Those two teams battled hard from wire to wired. Chris Kim came up big with the game-winner, but we had outstanding performances by everyone out there today. Caden was huge in goal. It was able to keep us in the game against the Bucknell offense. Travis and Hayden were strong inside. It was a total team win. Wow, just wow. I am so happy for how this team fought today.”
Offensively, five different Mids scored goals in the game, led by Travis Berzins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and Hayden Kahn (San Clemente, Calif.), who posted three goals apiece. Kim finished with two scores, including the game-winner. Nathan Duchez (San Jose, Calif.) and Rory Begin (Bakersfield, Calif.) each found the back of the net in the game.
At goal, Caden Capobianco worked a complete game en route to the victory. The junior finished with 14 saves and a steal. Jake Altmayer (Pasadena, Calif.) led the team with four steals, while Begin, Kim, Michael Heller (Menlo Park, Calif.), and Holden Seybold (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) each added takeaways.
It was all Berzins and Kahn in the first half. Berzins opened the scoring for the Navy, with Kahn following with his first game goal to put the Mids up 2-0. Bucknell converted a five-meter opportunity to net its first score of the game. In the second quarter, Berzins and Kahn again scored back-to-back to push the Midshipmen’s advantage to 4-1. The Bison used a second five-meter to cut the Mids’ lead to 4-2. The home team closed out the half to go into intermission with the Navy in front, 4-3.
The second half saw Bucknell tie the game at four, but Kahn answered to regain the advantage. The Bison knotted the game at five with 77 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The home team took its first afternoon lead, 6-5, but Duchez knotted the game a minute later. A Bison goal gave Bucknell a 7-6 advantage, but Kahn forced overtime with the equalizer.
In overtime, Bucknell rattled off back-to-back goals to take its biggest lead. The two teams flipped ends of the pool, and Navy responded. Berzins pulled the Mids to within one, 9-8. With two ticks remaining in regulation, Begin slipped a ball past the keeper to force sudden death.
Navy won the swim-off to start the sudden-death overtime. The team worked the ball around, setting Kim up for the game-winner.
Navy continues competition next weekend with a pair of road contests. The Mids will travel to Staten Island, N.Y., for a conference tilt with Wagner (Saturday, 10:00 a.m.) before continuing the weekend in the Bronx, N.Y. for a match-up with at Fordham (Saturday, 3:00 p.m.).