Andover Water Polo rapidly advanced to the offensive end of the pool. In a man-up situation, Head Coach Daniel O’Shea instructed his players to fire a shot off as quickly as possible. Accordingly, Jonathan Xue ’17 threw a rocket from outside the box. The incoming ball caught the Deerfield goalie by surprise, giving Andover a boost of confidence in what would ultimately be a 9-6 loss against Deerfield.
Andover fought hard in the loss against Deerfield and was later defeated by a greater margin by a strong Brunswick team, falling 13-4. The two losses would drop Andover’s record to 2-3.
The team struggled to overcome its opponents’ strong defenses and the physicality of Deerfield and Brunswick’s players. Both opposing teams excelled defensively, claiming victories over Andover through heavy press defenses and counterattacks after forcing turnovers.
“The constant defensive pressure forced us to make rushed passes and quick decisions that sometimes resulted in turnovers,” wrote Nicholas Isenhower ’18 in an email to The Phillipian.
Brunswick and Deerfield created large leads by capitalizing on Andover’s mistakes. Inaccurate passes from Andover led to turnovers and fast breaks for its opponents, where the team’s opponents exploited its scrambling defenders.
Andover played at a significant disadvantage this weekend, left without its Captain, Nick Faulkner ’16 and Dylan Norris ’16, standing at 6’7” and 6’6”, respectively. Both are also key cogs in the team’s offense. As a result, Andover struggled to find contributors on the offensive end.
“Our defense [played] well, but our offense wasn’t at full strength, especially without Nick and Dylan,” said Isenhower.
Despite being disadvantaged, the team embraced the challenge against two formidable opponents. It was effective in shutting down hole set positions, limiting its opponents’ offensive opportunities and taking powerful shots from the outside.
Without the presence of Faulkner and Norris, Xue acted as the team’s leader in the pool and accepted the brunt of the offensive load.
“Later in the game, we had more outside shots from [Xue]. He has a really powerful arm, and he made two of the goals in the [Deerfield] game,” said Nathaniel Smith ’18.
Ben Janoschek ’16 also turned in a strong performance, scoring three out of Andover’s four goals against Brunswick.
Rookie Goalie Thomas Glover ’18 impressed in his first career start for Andover. He had a strong weekend showcase, with about a 60 percent block rate during the Deerfield game.
Despite the loss, team morale and determination remains high. In two challenging games, the inexperienced team responded to the pressure in a positive way and fought hard even without its leaders.
Following its losses, Andover is determined to improve. Heading into its next matches, the team is working on executing clean passes during counter attacks, as well as forcing turnovers on defense.
“I know we are [a strong team] mentally, and we are perfecting our game in preparation for our matches on Saturday. We are working on defending against the counter and moving the ball around while in a heavy press,” wrote goalie Ryan Sedegat ’19 in an email to The Phillipian.
Andover Boys Water Polo will face off against Hotchkiss and Williston next Saturday at Hotchkiss.