Water Polo Continues to Dominate Conference Play


Balazs Berenyi and Fordham cemented their place atop the MAWPC with a big win over George Washington. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

When we last checked in with Fordham Water Polo, they were coming off a four-game conference sweep at the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) Crossover. Two weeks later, the Rams have let the good times roll, picking up three more conference wins and extending their win streak to nine. 

In perhaps the most highly anticipated conference matchup of the season, Fordham began an Oct. 15 double header against George Washington University with plenty on the line. GW entered the game ranked #19 in the nation, receiving one less vote than Fordham, who was ranked #18 at the time. The Colonials were 15-1 and winners of 15 straight but the Rams, at 14-6, were still ranked ahead of George Washington in both national and conference polls. Their lead was slim however, and a Fordham loss could see the Colonials leapfrog the Rams for the top spot in the MAWPC. 

George Washington got off to a strong start, stifling the Fordham offense and holding a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw a dramatic shift in momentum. Sophomore Jacopo Parrella quickly evened things at three and then both sides traded blows. Behind three unanswered goals, the Rams lept out to an 8-5 lead to end the half as the offense returned to form with six goals in the quarter. In the second half, Fordham picked up right where they left off, extending the goal streak to seven unanswered while sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Lercari held the Colonials scoreless for the entire third quarter. GW managed just two goals in the fourth as Fordham continued to pile on to secure a statement 16-7 victory, handing George Washington their first conference loss of the season. 

Sophomore Luca Silvestri shined with a season-high five-goal performance while Parrella posted a hat trick. It was an impressive performance against one of the top defensive teams in the league. George Washington came in allowing just 9.7 points per game, and while their center defense was strong to start, Fordham was able to spread them out with attacks from the wings and then target the middle as the game progressed. 

The Fordham offense continued to impress in the second match of the day as the Rams defeated John Hopkins 23-7. Scoring seven goals in the opening frame, the Rams put together their fifth 20+ point performance of the season en route to sweeping the double header. Graduate student Nir Gross and sophomore Lucas Nieto Jasny each had four goals while freshman Balazs Berenyi tallied three in the dominant offensive effort.

Moving ahead to this past weekend, Fordham squared off against the United States Naval Academy. Navy had recently received votes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) national polls and was coming off an overtime win against a Bucknell University team ranked top five in the MAWPC. With Fordham’s national ranking back up to #17 following the strong weekend prior, the Rams improved to 17-6, defeating Navy 14-7 behind a 15 save performance from Lercari. For the second weekend in a row, Silvestri and Berenyi were major offensive factors, each netting a hat trick as Fordham earned their ninth win in a row.

The last two weekends saw Fordham continue their dominance in-conference. Fordham boasts a perfect 11-0 record against conference opponents. It’s been an unparalleled run of dominance for the Rams who have won their last 16 conference matchups and are now 25-1 in conference games dating back to last year. 

Their performance against George Washington was particularly relieving. GW was very close to earning the top spot in the MAWPC polls, but the win gives the Rams a bit of separation for now. It’s not just the win, but the way they won as well, shutting down a potent GW offense while scoring 16 goals against a top-notch defense. They will meet again in two weeks, so it will be interesting to see if Fordham can replicate that performance. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive showing in what very well may be a teaser for the MAWPC championship game. 

With just three weekends left in the regular season, the conference tournament is on the horizon. Fordham will close out the season with five conference games to go with two non-conference matchups. It will be no cake walk as they’ll have rematches against George Washington, Bucknell University, Mount St. Mary’s College and Navy, all of whom are either currently ranked or right outside of the top five in the MAWPC poll. Add to that a rivalry game against Iona University and a matchup against a St. Francis Brooklyn team that defeated the Rams last year and Fordham will have their work cut out for them. 

Still, it seems they’ve put to rest any doubts about who the top team in the conference is. For any MAWPC hopefuls eyeing a 2022 championship banner, it’s best they know the path runs through Fordham.