Queen’s still pooling experience for future

Men’s and women’s water polo finish fourth and fifth respectively over the weekend against Ontario competition

The women’s team competes in the bronze medal game against the McMaster Marauders losing 12-0 over the weekend at the ARC.
The women’s team competes in the bronze medal game against the McMaster Marauders losing 12-0 over the weekend at the ARC.
Gaels player Andrew Read defends against a Toronto forward on Saturday.
Gaels player Andrew Read defends against a Toronto forward on Saturday.

The sound of splashes and whistles filled the ARC this past weekend as Queen’s hosted the 2010 OUA Water Polo Championships. A total of 11 men’s and women’s teams played 24 games over three days for a chance to prove themselves on a provincial level. The Gaels found themselves at the lower end of the standings. The men finished 1-2 in their games; beating York 8-7, and losing to Toronto and Western 23-0 and 15-8 respectively. The women went 1-4 getting their only win from a York forfeit while losing to Toronto, McMaster, Carleton and McMaster 15-4, 11-4, 16-2 and 12-0 respectively.

The men’s tournament was structured into two groups with Toronto, York and Queen’s in group A and Carleton, McMaster and Western in group B. The weekend started with each team playing two games against their group. The top team of each group advanced directly into the semi-final while the second and third place teams played a quarterfinal.

The Gaels men’s team entered the water on Friday evening in an exciting match against the York Lions. The first quarter ended evenly with a score of 3-2 in favour of York. By the end of the third the Gaels held a 7-6 lead. The excitement climaxed in the fourth quarter as the Gaels threw together a final offensive push in the last 30 seconds of a 7-7 game. The Gaels would secure their first win of the tournament when Riley Millington found the back of the net with one second remaining.

The team’s subsequent games weren’t nearly as exciting. On Saturday morning they took a beating from the Toronto Varsity Blues, 23-0, forcing them to second place in group A. Later that day they lost to the Western Mustangs 15-8 in the quarterfinals, eliminating them from the tournament. Team captain Ian Pinchin said the team could have played better in their game against Western.

“We let their shooters have too much room to move around,” he said. “We eliminated their center but we focused too much on one or two players. They beat us up and down the pool. Our counterattack wasn’t fast enough, [we] needed to be swimming harder.” The women weren’t much more successful.

With only five teams in their event, the women’s tournament was structured as a round robin instead of group play with the top four teams qualifying for a medal game.

The Gaels started against Toronto on Friday where they took a tough 15-4 loss in which captain Carla Henderson scored two goals. They got a free pass that afternoon against York, who forfeited their match.

The women entered Saturday with a 1-1 record, but things did not improve. In the evening they dropped a game 11-4 to the McMaster Marauders. On Sunday they played Carleton and lost 16-2 to finish their round robin action 1-3. The record put them in fourth, good enough to qualify for the bronze medal match against the third place Marauders.

In the bronze medal game the team struggled to generate offence, leading to a decisive defeat. The team played fairly well defensively against the Marauders, however on offence they found themselves forced to the perimeters and often took weak or bad angle shots that the goalie had no problem defending against.

Meanwhile, the Marauders combined their scoring abilities with the play of their goaltender to finish the game with a decisive 12-0 win. Head coach Don Duffey said the team’s offence cost them the game.

“We just couldn’t buy a goal,” he said. “They shot the lights out. It was just one of those days ... it wasn’t meant to be this year.”

Despite the results, both teams took a lot of positives from the weekend. The men’s win over York was a big step for a program still trying to grow. For the women, simply getting to see the top calibre teams in action provided experience. The clear disparities amongst teams may derive largely from a lack of play time.

Duffey said the team had a lot of rookies on the roster this season.

“We have a lot of young kids coming out,” he said. “[This season was] just [about] gaining experience: I think we made leaps and bounds and some big steps, big stretches. We just need to play a little bit more and get more experience. Get into that ‘big game’ mentality where we know how to finish.”

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