Water Polo Struggles at MPSF Invitational

Water Polo was put to the test last weekend against some of the best teams in the nation.


Water Polo struggled to keep up with some of the best teams in the nation last week. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Water Polo suffered a setback in their inaugural appearance at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Invitational, dropping three out of four and losing both of their matches against teams ranked in the national top 20 poll. 

Head coach Brian Bacharach circled the MPSF invite as the biggest test for Fordham this season, featuring all of the top 10 teams nationally and 14 of the top 20 teams per the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s national poll. #16 Fordham, bumped up one spot from their #17 preseason ranking, was the lowest nationally ranked team at the tournament and the only East Coast team to appear. 

Action kicked off on Friday with Fordham’s toughest matchup of the entire weekend, facing #5 University of Southern California (USC). USC won decisively, defeating Fordham 17-8. Sophomore Luca Silvestri had a hat trick, but Fordham was unable to keep up with USC’s offense.

Fordham would play two more games on Saturday, getting the day started against #13 University of California-Irvine. Fordham held a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter but surrendered it by halftime, trailing 5-4. Fordham took a 12-8 lead in the fourth quarter, thanks in large part to a six-goal third quarter, but allowed five unanswered goals in the final minutes as UC Irvine snuck away with the 13-12 win. Silvestri notched his second straight hat trick while freshman Balazs Berenyi tallied three goals of his own. With the loss, Fordham falls to 1-5 against nationally ranked opponents. 

Things didn’t get much better in the second game of the day, with the Rams falling to Santa Clara University in a low scoring 10-5 affair. Fordham took a 4-2 lead into half, but surrendered eight straight goals in the second half while mustering only one of their own. Silvestri led the Rams in scoring, once again, with two goals as the Rams dropped their third straight.

Fordham would salvage the trip with an 18-11 win over Pomona-Pitzer, but not before a power outage at Stanford University delayed the game for two hours. Once the power returned, Fordham’s offense did as well, jumping out to an 11-1 lead and cruising to victory. Berenyi and junior Christos Loupakis netted hat tricks while Silvestri closed out an impressive 10 goal weekend with another multi-goal performance. 

The weekend was a disappointing one for a Fordham team that prides itself on being able to compete against the league’s best. Fordham looked outmatched against #5 USC. On the contrast, they played very well for three quarters or so against #13 UC Irvine, but their fourth quarter collapse in an extremely winnable game makes it a painful one. Their loss to a Santa Clara team that received votes but is currently unranked was eye-opening as well, as the normally explosive Fordham offense managed just five goals, their lowest tally since September of last year when they suffered a 6-5 loss to the very same Santa Clara. 

Finishing games has been a problem for the Rams. If you take a look at their losses against University of Pacific, Princeton and UC Irvine, three top 20 teams, Fordham was either ahead or in striking distance heading into the fourth quarter. 

Fordham entered the tournament as the third lowest ranked team in the pool, but 1-3 still feels like a major let down. Between the collapse of the UC Irvine game and the fact that Fordham played the only two teams that were unranked at the tournament, the Rams should return home with a sour taste in their mouths. 

Before the invitational, Bacharach said, “If we can win a few games out there, then we should be in that [top 10-15] conversation. If not, then we’ve got work to do.” As October lingers, it appears Fordham may indeed have some work to do.