The Penn State club water polo team won three games this weekend in front of its home crowd to win its Mid-Atlantic Regional championship. The team took down Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, and Villanova to win the regionals.
President and senior Ian Golden said it is important to play at McCoy Natatorium.
“We were definitely inspired to play well in front of the home crowd,” Golden said. “They were very supportive throughout.”
Senior Andrew Nagelberg credited teamwork as a big key to their victories.
“We played really well as a team,” the Lower Gwynedd native said. “We didn’t get down on each other when things were looking bad.”
The team doesn’t have a traditional coach on the sidelines during matches. Instead, it relies on the leadership and experience of the three senior co-captains: Tommy Miceli, Cole Hepper, and Nagelberg.
Tommy Miceli led the team this weekend with nine goals, including four goals in the title game against Villanova.
“Tommy has been thinking of this tournament since last year,” said Nagelberg. “He is a very emotional player and we all fed off his energy.”
The Lions had a set gameplan to approach teams. Nagelberg said they played more finesse to start off and played more physical in the second half.
The defense also stepped up big and suffocated opposing teams all weekend long. Golden said they were able to dial in on defense and made some timely stops.
One pleasant surprise was the clutch play of freshman goalie Jeremy Smith. He made important saves to keep the scores close, including six saves in the title game.
“He was fantastic,” said Nagelberg. “We hope he can carry this momentum and experience into the national championship and beyond.”
Playing three games in two days wasn’t a problem for the team. Golden said in the past, they’ve played up to four games in one day.
The team looks to crank up its conditioning and training to prepare for the National Collegiate National Championship in three weeks taking place at Oregon State University.
With the regionals win, they clinched an automatic bid for the National Collegiate Club Championships. They will enter as the 12th seed out of 16.