Water Polo Splits Opening Series 2-2


Fordham Water Polo opened their season against four tough opponents. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Water Polo opened the season this past weekend with the Bruno Classic, hosted by Harvard University, splitting the four game series 2-2. Entering the season ranked 17th in the national top 20 poll, the Rams were immediately tested with two games against top 20 opponents. 

Fordham opened play on Saturday morning with a matchup against #16 Harvard University, falling 15-9. The Rams held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter behind goals from sophomore George Papanikolaou and freshman Balazs Berenyi. Harvard responded strongly, scoring six straight goals to take a 7-2 lead. Goals from senior Curtis Vidinoff and sophomore Lucas Nieto Jasny cut the Harvard lead down to 8-4 at halftime, but Harvard maintained their offensive attack in the second half as they pulled away with a six goal victory. Berenyi tallied two goals in his Fordham debut while Jasny and Papanikolaou combined for five goals and three assists. 

The Rams bounced back, winning their Saturday afternoon game against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 14-7. Taking a 3-2 lead into the second quarter, Fordham exploded in the second quarter with six goals from six different players. Fordham maintained the lead for the remainder of the game. Sophomore Jacopo Parrella notched three goals and two steals in his season debut, while Berenyi scored two goals in his second straight game. 

Fordham followed up their win over MIT with a dominant 28-8 win over Gannon University on Sunday morning. Their 28 goals were the most scored since 1971, when the Rams put up 30 against Penn State. The Rams’ offensive attack was on full display as 12 of the 15 players to play in the game had at least one goal. Berenyi shined once again, scoring six goals to pair with three assists. Sophomore Victor Schultz, junior Nacho Ariste and Jasny all had hat tricks while Parella scored a pair of goals to go with four assists and four steals. Freshmen Brendan Cassidy and Jagger McMannis each scored their first two goals of their Fordham careers. 

The Rams closed out the Bruno Classic with a Sunday afternoon matchup against #5 University of the Pacific. Fordham played them close, but ultimately fell 13-7. The Rams took a 2-1 lead in the first. Pacific took a 5-2 lead early in the second, but Fordham battled back to tie it at five. Pacific regained the lead again on two straight goals, but a last second extra-man goal from Vidinoff cut the lead down to 7-6 at half time. The Rams trailed 9-7 after three quarters but the Tigers scored four goals in the fourth quarter to seal the 13-7 win. Vidinoff and Parrella both tallied a pair of goals as the Rams offense came up short, being held to just one goal in the second half. 

All in all, it was a promising opening series for Fordham. The Rams did not look overmatched against two nationally ranked opponents, battling against #16 Harvard University and playing within two goals of #5 University of the Pacific until the final quarter. It’s worth noting that the Rams were without graduate student Nir Gross and sophomore Luca Silvestri, two impact transfers, for the entire series while Jacopo Parrella did not play in the season opener against Harvard because of a red flag from the end of last season. 

Fordham’s big three of Parrella, Papanikolaou and Jasny is already off to a strong start, combining for 21 goals. It’s early, but  Berenyi looks like he could have a major impact as a freshman, scoring 10 goals in his first three games. 

Sophomore goaltenders Thomas Lercari and Riccardo Di Giuseppe both saw time, with Lercari notching 11 saves against Pacific. The goaltender position will certainly be something to keep an eye on this season as the team will look to fill the void of all-time saves leader Bailey O’Mara.

Fordham travels to Princeton University next weekend for the Princeton Invitational. They’ll kick it off on Saturday, Sept. 10 against California Lutheran University ahead of a pair of Sunday games against St. Francis Brooklyn and Princeton. 

The two Sunday games will be another tough early test for the Rams, as St. Francis Brooklyn and Princeton met in the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NEWPC) Championship last year. Princeton went on to eliminate Fordham in the first round of the NCAA tournament. As head coach Brian Bacharach noted before the start of the season, these early season tests will give Fordham a better idea of where they stand compared to the rest of the nation.