After snatching a difficult rebound, Dylan Norris ’16 blasted a powerful shot into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1 in Andover Water Polo’s season opener against Hopkins on Saturday. Andover finished the the game with a 10-9 win. The team then went on to secure an impressive 9-8 win over Loomis Chaffee on the same day, before falling to Exeter 17-9 on Tuesday. The team record currently stands at 2-1.
In its games against Hopkins and Loomis, Andover’s strength lay primarily in its defense, which managed to effectively limit both opponents’ scoring abilities.
“Both games were very close, and in both games, what it came down to was our ability to get one more defensive stop at the end of each game. In both cases, we were able to, and I think that is a testament to our team’s mental and physical strength,” said Captain Nick Faulkner ’16.
Jonathan Xue ’17 added, “Our strength was our great defensive pressure, which prevented many shooting opportunities and forced a lot of turnovers.”
On the other hand, Andover struggled with committing too many avoidable fouls in both games and with failures of communication.
“Our biggest challenge was probably causing some unnecessary fouls and ejections, which led to man-down situations. Those man-down situations can really hurt our game plan and lead to easy goals for the other team,” said Xue. “I think we could work more on getting the ball up the pool more efficiently and communicating more to prepare either offensively or defensively against our opponents,” said Darren Ty ’16.
Andover headed north to Exeter on Tuesday with these improvements in mind. Despite its hard-fought efforts, however, the team ultimately fell 17-9. Andover’s greatest performances came from some impressive offensive plays made by returners Ty and Xue, though they were still not enough to overcome Exeter’s talented team.
“Both [Ty] and [Xue] had many good shots from the outside, but the Exeter goalie matched with quality blocks,” said newcomer Nathaniel Smith ’18. “Our spirits were a bit down [during the game], and we were definitely tired. You could see it on our faces.”
Regardless of the tough loss, the team is concentrating on staying mentally tough and preparing for Saturday’s games.
“I think we are going to really focus on what we’ve practiced over the past [few] weeks and not let the opposition get in our heads as much,” said Smith.
Andover will face Deerfield and Brunswick, two of the most skilled teams in the league, in a doubleheader at Deerfield this Saturday.