ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Playing in the Southern Championships title game for the second consecutive year, the Bucknell men’s water polo team held a three-goal halftime lead over Navy and appeared to be in good shape to claim a second straight crown, but the Mids scored five consecutive times in the third quarter and defeated the Bison 9-8 Sunday afternoon at Lejeune Hall.
Bucknell (13-9), the second seed in the 12-team field, still earned an automatic berth to the CWPA Championship, which will be held in two weeks at Brown.
Jack Else led the Bison with five goals, while Stefan Aleksic added two. A second-quarter goal by Stephen Norton rounded out the scoring for Bucknell, which swept the regular-season series from the Mids.
Navy (17-14), the fifth seed, won its eighth consecutive game overall, and its fourth of the weekend.
Bucknell faced an early one-goal deficit, but four straight goals in a span of just over four minutes in the second quarter lifted the Bison to their 6-3 halftime advantage. It would be nearly 12 minutes before Bucknell would find the back of the net again, but the Bison still had chances as Else’s goal in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter brought Bucknell to within 8-7. An Aleksic goal knotted the score at 8-8 with more than five minutes to play.
The final goal of the game came with just under five minutes on the clock when Will Weggeland netted his second score of the contest.
Bucknell drew five ejections in the contest and scored once on six-on-five opportunities. Else and Mike Kimble led the way with two ejections drawn apiece.
Keegan Williams posted seven saves in goal for the Bison.
The CWPA Championship is scheduled for Nov. 22-24 at Brown. This will be Bucknell’s 14 consecutive trip to the event that decides the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
BUCKNELL 2 4 0 2 -8
NAVY 2 1 5 1 -9
Goals: Else (5), Aleksic (2), Norton.
Assists: Hale (2), Aleksic, Nowlin, Babic, Norton.
Field Blocks: Else, Aleksic, Colina, Moore, Daley.
Ejections Drawn: Else (2), Kimble (2), Nowlin.
Saves: Williams (7 svs., 9 ga., 32:00 min.).
Steals: Aleksic (3), Daley (2), Hale, Nowlin, Colina, Moore.
Sprints: Hale (0-3), Colina (0-1).
Bucknell Record: 13-9