In a widely anticipated battle between two high-powered water polo teams, the No. 1 ranked Wolverines defeated the Mater Dei Monarchs 10-9 to maintain an undefeated record.
The first quarter ended with a single goal scored by Keller Maloney ’18. The Wolverines have a reputation as a defensive-minded team, and rely on team defense and preparation.
Coach Brian Flacks acknowledged that the offense had to improve. Without UCLA commit Felix Brozyna-Vilim ’17, the Wolverines were expected to have some trouble outscoring the Monarchs.
“Without Felix, it is obviously going to be harder to get a true offensive presence,” starting goalkeeper and University of Southern California (USC) commit Sam Krutonog ’18 said, “Evan has done a terrific job in playing a position which he is not accustomed to due to Felix’s absence.”
The Wolverine’s next man up mentality shined as the underclassmen stepped up in Brozyna-Vilim’s place. Pierce Maloney ’19 scored two goals and Alexandru Bucur ’19 contributed one goal.
The Wolverines came out with an impressive start, and led 6-3 at halftime. However, the Monarchs surged back to take their first lead of the night 8-7 with five minutes left in the 4th quarter.
With the game on the line, the veteran players maintained composure. Evan Rosenfeld ’17 scored to tie the match with 5:04 left. Luke Henriksson ’17 then followed suit, scoring the Wolverines final two goals to put the game away. Henriksson led the team in scoring with four goals.
Flacks was pleased with his squad’s performance.
“They’ve been through a lot of adversity and they’ve continued to impress me with their poise, particularly late in games so I’m really impressed” Flacks said.
This face-off between the two teams may be a preview of the CIFSS-D1 finals coming up Nov. 19. The two teams have met in the finals for the last three years, with the Wolverines winning two of the championships and Mater Dei taking one.
Flacks, despite all the excitement and speculation, maintains his mantra that his team does not view competitions against Mater Dei as a measure of their own success, and makes sure the kids focus on what they can control.
“I tell the kids all the time to be where your feet are, it’s an [Alabama football head coach] Nick Saban thing,” Flacks said. “Live in the present. I was just thinking about the next possession, so nothing too scary. We don’t prepare differently for really anyone. We’ve been working hard in practice and training and I’m glad we came out with a win tonight.”