Rocketing a shot from the point into the net, Co-Captain Travis Bouscaren ’14 started off Andover Boys Water Polo’s game against rival Exeter on a strong note. However, Exeter came out on top as Andover fell just two points short of victory on Wednesday.
“Our strong points today were that everyone played tough,” said Bouscaren, despite the 7-9 loss. “Exeter is a very physical team but we handled the pressure pretty well.”
Propelled by the opening goal, Andover maintained control of the ball, just barely missing a second goal. The team continued to show improved skill with smooth passes, opening up multiple offensive opportunities and allowing Bouscaren to quickly net a second goal off a pass from Nick Faulkner ’16.
“We started pressing a lot harder on Exeter, and we forced their guys out of their position,” said David Cao ’14.
Despite the early advantage, Andover was unable to seal the deal against its seasoned opponent. Co-Captain Andrew Yang ’14 said, “Just last Saturday, Exeter scored 22 points in both of their games. We knew coming into the game that we would have a tough game since Exeter is the defending champion.”
Exeter’s skill became apparent as its offense began to break down Andover’s previously cohesive defense. Despite multiple saves from goalie Rome Arnold ’14, Exeter turned the tides on the team’s 5-4 lead in the third quarter.
“It was an issue of timing, and an extremely subtle issue” said Marc Sevastopoulo ’15.
“For the most part, Exeter’s perimeter players held the ball, but they just saw the holes in our defense more quickly than we saw those holes,” he continued. “They passed the ball to the two-meter player whenever he was in position, and we just didn’t give defensive help to the two-meter defender as soon as we needed.”
Entering the final quarter tied at 7-7, Andover managed to stay strong and fend off Exeter’s attacks. In the last four minutes, Andover’s attempt to even its 8-7 disadvantage bounced off the post, giving Exeter the opportunity to score a second unanswered goal.
“There were a lot of opportunities where we could’ve set the ball in the two-meter line where it’s almost a guaranteed goal, but we weren’t doing it as a team and we missed a lot of opportunities,” said Cao.
He continued, “Additionally, we created a lot of bad opportunities, so we need to get used to recognizing how everyone is doing in the pool and working on team chemistry.”
Despite the loss, the close score is indicative of Andover’s potential.
“It is still very early in the season and not everyone has had a chance to play with each other, so we will only get better as the season goes on,” said Yang. “Our offense and decision-making just need some work.”
Andover Boys Water Polo remains optimistic and looks forward to its next game on Saturday against Brunswick.