Men's water polo wins North Atlantic title

by Mike Block | 10/31/03 6:00am

This past weekend, Dartmouth's men's water polo team finished off one of its most successful divisional seasons in history. After going undefeated in league play, the Big Green went 3-0 at the North Atlantic Divisional Championships to claim top honors in their new division. Dartmouth has played in New England Division the past 6 seasons.

Facing tough but severely overmatched competition throughout the year, Dartmouth persevered to claim its fourth divisional title in six years and a trip to the National Championships at Texas A&M.

The first match of the weekend pitted top-seeded Dartmouth against the number eight seed, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The Big Green had an early 2-1 lead, but then exploded behind a combined five goal effort in just two and a half minutes by Mike Block '04 and Neil Putman '06. Halfway through the second quarter Dartmouth had amassed a 12-1 lead over the Engineers. Pulling back its offense, the Green finished out the game with no further scoring against its overwhelmed opponent and secured a bid to the semi-finals.

Dartmouth's next contest set the Big Green against fourth-seeded Boston College. The Golden Eagles always present a very physical style of play, but for the third time this season, Dartmouth was ready and responded ardently. Co-Captain Matt Derr '04 led a balanced attack with his game-high four goals. Co-Captain Ryan Goldhahn '04 added a hat trick and Tom Sanford '04, Kemper Diehl '06 and Jaren "The Phrase" Hayes '07 each added a pair. Dartmouth would advance to the finals via a 15-2 pummeling of a deflated BC.

In the finals, the Big Green was surprised to meet a greatly improved third-seeded Tufts team as they bested challengers Middlebury in their semifinal. Nevertheless, Dartmouth held to its formula of hard counter-attacks, steady half court play and solid defense while taking on the Jumbos.

Goldhahn muscled in four goals and the lightning-quick Diehl added three of his own. Most notable of all, though was the consistently impregnable defense led by Ross Markwort '04, Nick Chukiat '05 and goalie Pierce Perotti '06 that allowed a mere three goals, and only six goals all tournament.

Also in this game, Peter Jenks '05 scored his first goal of the season with time running out in the game to give Dartmouth a 15-3 victory over Tufts and the North Atlantic Division title.

Dartmouth outscored the divisional competition 42-6 over the weekend and 171-29 over the season, making the average margin of victory a nearly unbelievable 17-3. Dartmouth will be seeded fifteenth at Nationals as the North Atlantic Division receives its bid based on no representative of the division attending last year.

The Big Green will face a strong second-seeded team from the Big Ten Conference in their opening game, but when asked their feelings on the matter, Goldhahn and Derr both responded simultaneously, "We're ready."

Mike Block is the president of the Dartmouth Men's Water Polo Club.