The football team was not the only Fordham squad in Annapolis this past weekend. Water Polo kicked off their season as they did last year, with four games in the annual Navy Labor Day Open. And unlike their football counterparts, The Rams left the home of the Midshipmen in high spirits, taking 3 out of 4 contests.
Fordham faced quite the test right out of the gate, that being the Princeton Tigers, the 11th ranked team in the country. The Rams fought valiantly against the Tigers in spite of an 8-3 halftime deficit. They kept the game in striking distance, before being outscored 5-3 in 4th and falling 17-10.
It was quite the balanced scoring effort in defeat. Sophomore J.J. Meador was the only multi-goal scorer. Junior Ethan Vandeventur pitched in two steals and a goal of his own. Freshman Tristen Knoflick and Jake Brogan, sophomores Cole Donnelly and Magnus Sims, junior Cameron Shewchuck, and senior RJ Simmons netted the other tallies.
Junior goalkeeper Alex Jahns played three quarters, allowing 15 of the 17 goals while turning away eight shots. He was replaced in the final frame by sophomore Patrick Coffey who allowed the final two.
The next matchup was an interesting one, with just a bit of historical significance thrown in. The Rams took on the La Salle Expolers, not a very familiar name in the world of collegiate Water Polo. That is because they are in their inaugural season and their matchup with Fordham was only their second game in program history.
The Explorers are experiencing the typical growing pains of a new program, and Fordham had no problem seizing the opportunity. It blew past La Salle 23-5 for the first victory of the young season.
Fordham dominated La Salle from the start, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the opening frame, before chalking up fifth goals apiece in the second and third.
Ian Watson, a sophomore, was all over the stat sheet, netting three goals, swiping away four steals, along with an assist to boot. He was joined by seven other players who had at least two goals apiece. Knoflick, Shewchuk, Simmons and Varshisky continued their scoring ways from the previous game, while Freshman Jake Miller-Tot and George Maltby got on the board for the first time in Annapolis.
That was the end of day one for the Rams, but there were still two matches to be played the very next day. The first of which was a close 13-8 victory over the Golden Knights of Gannon University.
The Rams started off hot again, leading 5-1 after one. Although the score was close, Fordham was consistently on top throughout the game, maintaining a four goal advantage through three. The second win of the season came courtesy of three goals in the fourth to the pull the Rams away.
The wily veteran Simmons was the story on the Fordham side, netting the highest Ram goal total of the tournament with four. He was joined by another solid performance from Watson and Junior Grant Kessling, who each contributed a two goals each.
Later that afternoon the Rams faced the McKendree Bearcats, in what was each school’s final game of the tournament. The Bearcats were looking for their second win in five tries, but they would not find it that day.
It was like watching the La Salle game all over again. Fordham dominated from the get-go, blanking Mckendree 8-0 in the first. And it didn’t stop after that, a 10-1 lead at the half, 11-3 after three, and a 16-8 final score.
Some familiar names, Sims (three goals), Vandeventer (three goals), Donnelly (two goals and two assists) and Watson (two goals and two assists) capped off strong weekends.
The team heads to the home of the very team that handed them their first defeat, for the Princeton Invitational next weekend. Cal Baptist, Santa Clara and Harvard are all on tap for Sept. 10th and 11th.