Sports

Last-Minute Defensive Effort Preserves Close Andover Victory

Andover Water Polo pulled off a stunning victory against Choate, led by Co-captains Curtis Hon ’10 and Conor McAuliffe ’10, who combined for seven goals leading the team to a one-goal victory. In an intense and pressure-filled atmosphere, Andover grabbed an early 2-0 lead with a backhanded rocket fired by Hon and a bullet hurled by McAuliffe. In the second quarter, Andover concentrated its defensive efforts on Choate’s leading scorer. Double-teaming him proved effective, as the anticipating defense drew offensive fouls and intercepted several passes, initiating counterattacks by Matt Mahoney ’11, Alex Nanda ’11, and McAuliffe. These counterattacks resulted in four goals in the second quarter, tying the score at halftime. “The counterattacks were our strongest point,” David Thwaites ’11 said. “They led to offensive opportunities throughout the entire game.” An offensive battle continued in the third quarter, as five goals from Andrew Fraser ’10, Hon, Mahoney and Austen Novis ’11 countered five goals put up by Choate. Will Falk-Wallace ’10, Conor Deveney ‘11 and Ben Morris ’11 generated key turnovers in the quarter. “Everyone played solid defense and worked as a team to put up goals”, said Nanda. With the score tied entering the fourth quarter, McAuliffe scored early to tie the game. Choate tied the score later on, however, after several breathtaking saves from Dan Larson ’11. With one minute left, Mahoney squeezed the ball past the goalie, giving Andover a one-goal advantage. One last offensive possession for Choate allowed several shots, but a game-winning save from Larson ended the game. To sum up the match, Alex Smachlo ’11 said, “In one of the most important games of the season, we played extremely well, pulling out a win and responding well to the pressure.” The excitement and intensity from the previous game increased in the second game, resulting in a strong 16-9 Andover victory. The strong defense provided by Mahoney and Falk-Wallace subdued Hopkins’ scoring while goals from McAuliffe, Hon, Nanda and Fraser accounted for the offense, giving Andover with a 9-4 lead at half. Thwaites attributed this lead to the counterattacks. “We capitalized on their mistakes, leading to counterattacks that caught them off guard, and we executed,” he said. “Our counterattacks were smart as well, as we didn’t just throw one hail mary; we made passes and took a good shot at the right time.” Andover defense dominated the second half as Deveney, Morris and Charlie Oliva ’11 plagued the perimeter players with physical defense, forcing Hopkins to put up weak shots that goalie Andrew Wilson ’12 easily saved. Good counterattack passes from Wilson produced goals on the offensive end. Novis and McAuliffe chalked up several goals in this manner, and combined for four goals in the second half. Hon and Nanda also contributed goals from the two meter position, solidifying Andover’s lead. The defense closed out the game, constraining Hopkins to one goal in the final quarter. “We won because we didn’t back down on defense and we took shots that frustrated the goalie on offense,” said Thwaites.