Rick Ono ’19 received the ball at the post from Co-Captain Eric Osband ’19, jumped over his defender, and buried the ball in the back of the net on a man-up opportunity. This goal was one of many that aided Andover Boys Water Polo’s 21-11 win against Lawrenceville this past Saturday.
Andover’s game against Lawrenceville was the second of three in a tripleheader at Williston Northampton. Andover played Williston and Hotchkiss, dominating both games with scores of 15-8 and 14-10, respectively. On Wednesday, Andover defeated St. John’s Prep 28-14. Its record now stands at 8-2.
According to Osband, of the three teams played on Saturday, Lawrenceville proved to be Andover’s toughest competitor.
Osband said, “Lawrenceville was the hardest game we played all season. It was also probably the most even game I’ve ever played in my four years here so far. We’d never played them before, but they’re a really strong team and they were playing good water polo. They had really good movement as a team.”
According to Max Hunger ’20, Lawrenceville demonstrated an expertise in technique that challenged Andover to utilize its understanding of the game rather than rely solely on skill.
“Lawrenceville, words from [Head Coach David Fox] and also from myself, was the best technical team we’ve played. They actually knew how to play water polo in terms of [a] technical standpoint. They knew how to position themselves [and] get good shots. Although they didn’t have a star player or star players like other teams did, they really forced us to perfect the real basics of the game, and the real challenge was to not rely on our skill to finally get into the lead but more rely on our knowledge and our application of our different strategies that we practiced over and over,” said Hunger.
Despite the difficulty posed by Lawrenceville, Andover refused to let its guard down, remaining fiercely alert throughout the game, according to Osband.
Osband said, “We were constantly calling switches and moving around and shot blocking and helping each other out, even when we were super tired, every time they got the ball. They were a really strong team and were going to score, but we were always looking around and looking for plays. When we stole the ball, we exploded on offense and tried to put the ball in the cage.”
In its game against Williston — the first of the tripleheader — Andover demonstrated its strength in both mental and physical resilience, according to Osband and Hunger.
Osband said, “[In the first game against Williston,] we were very energetic. In the beginning we didn’t really score much, but we every time they had a counterattack or we stole the ball or something, we’d all sprint into offense and we would keep on going back and forth, which doesn’t happen all the time.”
Hunger added, “[Against Williston,] we finally learned how to control mentally our emotions and not let the outcome of the game really bug us. It was always a zero-zero game. Our goal is to just get the lead. Every quarter started off zero-zero, regardless of how far ahead we were. Each goal against us, we learned how to not get it into our heads, because one goal in the end is not going to do everything.”
In its final game of the tripleheader, Andover had an uncharacteristically dull start, according to Theo Faugeres ’21, Osband, and Hunger.
Faugeres said, “[Against Hotchkiss], we started off really badly in the first half of the game. And then in the third quarter, we managed to focus a little bit more, and we got into the previous mentality that we had in the other games.”
Hunger said, “After beating the first two teams with a fairly big lead, we really had a mental state where we were a little bit cocky. A team we beat by ten points beat Hotchkiss by 15, so we went into that game without our intensity and drive. Usually, we get an early lead and we just hold onto it and extend it. This game, we started off really slow, and we were shocked that they actually took advantage of our weakness, but we ended up still gathering up. In the second half of the game, we actually pushed through and won pretty well.”
On Wednesday, Andover faced a particularly combative opponent in St. John’s Prep. Conscious of the team’s tendency towards aggression, Andover focused on remaining collected under pressure, according to Osband.
“[The Prep] is really dirty. [Their players] grab us a lot. We’re a pretty chill team, I guess. We don’t really do that, and we’re not really experienced with people who do do that. I know when someone grabs you or grabs your suit, the inclination is to stop moving. They’re holding onto you, and it hurts a little bit, but we’ve just got to make sure we keep moving so they get called for it,” said Osband.
Andover will face Choate away on Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Rick Ono is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.