PRINCETON, N.J. – In a nail-biting overtime match, the No. 13 Navy water polo team (5-3, 0-1 MAWPC) was narrowly defeated 13-12 by Wagner (5-3, 1-0 MAWPC) at the Princeton Invitational’s closing game. Hosted at DeNunzio Pool, this contest marked both teams’ first Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) game of the season.
“Today was disappointing,” Navy head coach Luis Nicolao said post-game. “Our guys fought hard, but came up just short. We had an opportunity to open conference play with a win so to come that close and not get the win, it’s disappointing.”
Offense Struggles Despite Efforts
While six Navy players found the back of the net, the team struggled offensively, converting just 12 of their 45 goal attempts. Sam Collingwood scored three goals for his second consecutive hat trick. Teammates Kiefer Black, Aiden Day, Nathan Duchez, and Luka Sekulic contributed two goals each, with Tommy McKnew adding another. Black also led with three assists.
Senior team captain Caden Capobianco kept Navy afloat with 13 saves, alongside two steals each from Black, Collingwood, and Hayden Kahn. This defensive effort was pivotal in keeping the score close throughout the match.
Wagner drew first blood but quickly saw an equalizer from Black, setting the stage for a closely contested game. A tie at 3-3 in the first quarter led to a lead change in favor of Wagner. However, Navy countered with two goals from Duchez to end the quarter.
The second quarter saw another lead change, but the third quarter offered the most drama. With both teams knotted at 9-9, the stage was set for an exhilarating final quarter. Navy’s Collingwood and McKnew scored crucial goals, forcing the game into an extra period.
In overtime, Wagner scored first but Navy’s Collingwood completed his hat trick, tying the game at 12-12. A last-minute goal from Wagner sealed Navy’s fate, as they could not find an equalizer.
Navy will return to action this Thursday at 6:30 p.m., hosting Air Force at Lejeune Hall. “After two weeks on the road, we finally get a home game this Thursday, which is against Air Force. I am looking forward to an amazing atmosphere,” Nicolao added. The game is scheduled for broadcast on YouTube, and admission is free.
The Princeton Invitational offered both Navy and Wagner a challenging start to their MAWPC seasons. Despite the disappointing outcome for Navy, the team remains hopeful as they look ahead to their next game against Air Force, marking their return to home waters.