2016 MIAA A water polo champions McDonogh School
The wait ended for McDonogh School water polo Saturday. The Eagles defeated Loyola Blakefield, 10-8, to claim the MIAA championship inside the Henry A. Rosenberg Aquatic Center in Owings Mills.
Tristian Fujimura finished with 4 goals and an assist for the Eagles (13-3 overall), and senior James Fields added two goals and three assists. Patrick Elfert had 4 goals for Loyola (14-4), all coming in the second half.
McDonogh scored 5 unanswered goals in the opening half, enroute to its first MIAA title since 2012. Last season, the Eagles lost to eventual champ Calvert Hall College in the semifinal round.
With all but one performer back from the 2015 roster, McDonogh believed it was ready to take the final step this season.
“I think we have a lot of guys with some big-game experience, playing in tight one-goal games we didn’t come out top of,” said Eagles coach John Stedding. “I think this year’s team made the commitment to come out on top and put in the hard work.”
“Last year, we had a bunch of sophomores and juniors and we lacked confidence,” said McDonogh junior Jack Sweeney, who added two goals and an assist. “From the first preseason practice, we knew this was our end goal, winning the championship.”
The Eagles didn’t flinch after allowing the first goal as Sweeney, who helped the boys’ lacrosse team claim the MIAA A crown last spring, and Fujimura each scored twice for a 5-1 advantage. McDonogh enjoyed a 6-2 cushion at intermission.
“We’re always looking at each other thinking gas pedal, gas pedal,” said Shiels. “As soon as we feel any momentum we run with it.”
The Eagles were in command at 8-3 after Shiels finished a pass from senior Craig Nelson with 7:16 left in regulation, but Loyola wasn’t done. Elfert had a hat trick and Jake Breschi’s tally with 2:01 to play pulled Blakefield to within 10-8.
The Dons got no closer, falling in the final for the second straight year. Tiernan Brunner scored twice for Loyola and Michael Pierce tallied.
“McDonogh did a good job drawing a number of kick outs especially in the back half,” said Dons coach Matt McDonough. “Our guys had a little difficult time staying in front on a lot of their drives.”
Nelson finished with two goals and an assist for the Eagles, who close their campaign next weekend at the Eastern Water Polo Championships in Pennsylvania.
“This performance today was a culmination of a lot of things. Our guys come in at 6 a.m. everyday, worked hard in the offseason and going to camps,” said Stedding. “Today, they just got in and played for each other.”
MIAA water polo championship
at McDonogh School
McDonogh 10, Loyola Blakefield 8
Goals: Loyola – Elfert 4, Brunner 2, Breschi, Pierce; McDonogh – Fujimura 4, Nelson 2, J. Shiels 2, Sweeney 2.
Assists: McDonogh – J. Shiels 3, Fujimura, Nelson, M. Shiels, Sweeney
Saves: McDonogh – Pearson 7; Loyola – Elliott 6
Loyola 1 1 1 5 – 8
McDonogh 2 4 1 3 – 10