The Gannon University men’s water polo team concluded its season Sunday with a decisive 19-6 win over Penn State Behrend at the 2011 Collegiate Water Polo Association Southern Division Championship.
The win over their hometown rival boosted the Knights to a ninth-place finish at the tournament and a final record of 8-17.
The win that was generated by an offensive explosion came after two tough losses to Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University Saturday.
Both the Blue Jays and the Cardinals jumped out to quick leads against the Knights, though junior goalkeeper Neal Zoellick did a solid job on defense, totaling 22 saves in two matches.
Gannon contrastingly could not match the offensive efforts of either opponent, netting only three goals in each match.
It was a completely different story against Penn State Behrend, as the Knights outscored the Lions in all four quarters. The team was led by sophomore Daisuke Takagi, who finished the match with five goals. Seniors Phil Myrick and Greg Nelson followed closely behind, each scoring four times.
Myrick said the team’s problem on Saturday was getting off to a slow start in each game.
“Against Johns Hopkins and GW we started off slow and couldn’t seem to find any sort of groove during both games,” he said. “We just lacked focus – usually we figure things out by the second half but it wasn’t until the last three minutes of each game that we started to play as a cohesive team.”
He said that against Behrend, the team turned around its habit of sluggish starts with a goal almost right out of the gate.
“We scored within the first 10 seconds and from then on out we were unstoppable,” he said. “Everything fell into place like we have practiced all year and we really seemed to find our style of play. Too bad it was in our last game.”
Zoellick again pulled through for the Knights in goal, racking up 11 saves against the Lions.
Both Nelson and Myrick said the major thing that held the team back from finishing with a better record was a young team that lacked a certain amount of experience, but that they improved vastly with each match.
“I thought we had a lot of ups and downs,” Myrick said. “Being a young team, things can be difficult at times.”
Nelson also said that though the team was young, the Knights were extremely talented.
“We had a great season and gave it 100 percent all the time,” he said. “It was fun and I had the best senior year I could have asked for.”
Myrick also said that he predicts although he will not be around next year, the Knights will have a successful season.
“After every loss we gained the right experience that’s necessary to have a strong and adaptive team,” he said. “I am really excited to see where the team goes next year and I have a feeling it will be their best finishing season yet.”