UGA Finishes 13th In The Nation!

November 7, 2013 was an early morning for the members of the Men’s Water Polo Club at UGA as they departed Atlanta at 8:22am to head to UC-San Diego for the 2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association Club National Championship. After landing and picking up the 15-passenger van, the team checked-in to the Holiday Inn and headed to the beach for the afternoon making sure to stop to eat at a famous In-N-Out Burger. Arriving early Thursday to relax all day hoped to give the team plenty of time to adjust to the jet lag before the first game the following morning. However, the time change was still felt by the team that night at 7pm local time—10pm Athens time—when the team caught its first glimpse of the beautiful outdoor pools during its scheduled 30-minute warm-up.

The next day began with a complimentary breakfast provided by the league/ hotel before an 8am coaches meeting and a first game against the #3 seed University of Texas. The Longhorns gave the Bulldawgs a run for their money as the game was an eye-opener for many. Given that the only other time in club history UGA made it to this tournament was in 2010, the talent at this tournament was nothing the current team had witnessed before. Quickly, reality hit when UGA realized they were no longer the top dawg after the end of the first quarter. The CWPA narrated the game here. With a loss, UGA decided to watch the other teams compete to learn how they play in preparation for its next game that night against #11 Ohio State University, the game narration found here. However, another loss after an exhausting game sent the team back to the hotel with much to sleep on.

With a full Saturday ahead of them, the team got to sleep in, eat another complimentary breakfast, and work on some make-up schoolwork. Even though the next game was not until almost 10pm that night, UGA traveled back to the pool to watch potential tournament winners including Lindenwood, Berkeley, UCLA, and Texas in attempts to make the most out of this water polo experience. Coach Phong helped describe different plays to inexperienced players and began strategizing for the team’s final game. After absorbing as much as they could, the team decided to hit the beach again to take a break; and, the beach was just what they needed for their last game against #7 Miami (FL), which is narrated here. With a win, the bulldawgs walked away from the tournament in 13th place in the nation and were able to send Coach Phong off with a winning record, game ball, and Player of the Game honors.

However, the trip didn’t end there. The team had a full day in La Jolla, California as their flight did not leave until 10:50pm Sunday night due to an unknown tournament schedule. Thus, the team attended the championship game, UCLA vs. Lindenwood, and the experience helped gage the future of the team. Realizing there is more out there than a slough defense and cross-cage drives, UGA picked up on California’s plays such as a new version of M-drop defense to bring home to Athens. UGA comes back with videos of their games narrated by a professional levitra sin receta en farmacias announcer too. Additionally, after talking with other teams, UGA plans to continue furthering the development of water polo in Georgia by: asking for more pool time as most teams practice at least two hours per week more; purchasing new equipment seen on the tournament site such as 2/5m markers; and, building a stronger program that feeds ex-varsity athletes and coaches into the team like the other clubs have.

Though they came for the water polo, UGA spent the rest of their final day making more memories on Pacific Beach, the team’s go-to spot. With perfect beach weather the entire weekend, the team made friends with an elderly local named “Football Paul,” body surfed in the freezing Pacific, and fell in love with the recommended Senor Pancho’s Mexican Grill so much that they ate there three times over the course of the trip. The random fog attack, Miller’s Field, late night iHop, beach wrestling matches (all in good nature, of course), and team meetings in the hot tub made this trip a trip of a lifetime. Not only were the members exposed to life in California, but also they experienced what it means to participate in a national tournament and compete as a national team. This experience motivates the Men’s Water Polo Club at UGA to train hard to claim another division title to attend the 2014 CWPA Club National Championship in Texas. Until then, see you next year and Go Dawgs!

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UGA Wins CWPA Southeast Division Title at Vanderbilt University

 

(Left to Right: Front Row- Wilson Couture, Joe Debonis, Logan Duncan, Phong Nguyen, Chris McCarter, Alex Komitor, Alex Lembeck, Will Gregory; Back Row: John Roquet, Alex Ballasiotes, Carson Pruitt, Nick Atkinson, James Jacobi, Kyle Smith, Kevin Hughes, Christian Saupe)

UGA earned the #3 seed heading into the Southeastern Divisional Championship tournament at Vanderbilt October 26-27, 2013. The team’s first game was against the #6 seed, Auburn Tigers. Auburn was a team that UGA had success against previously, and the Dawgs kept the game out of reach. Only having two goals scored on goalie Alex Lembeck, Lembeck decided to rest his knee and allowed John Roquet to play goal. With a final score of 14-6, UGA was able to work out a lot of kinks in their game and allowed bench players in the game in order to rest for the matchup with Georgia Tech.

In the semi finals, UGA faced Georgia Tech in a tense matchup. UGA built a four-goal lead early in the second half and never allowed the Jackets back into the game. Having both Nguyen and Couture for this game with Georgia Tech proved to be the real difference as the Dawgs were able to rely on more depth. Also, UGA had another advantage with Georgia Tech’s starting goalie absent and UGA’s goalie Alex Lembeck shutting down shots without compromise. UGA was able to come out victorious with a 15-11 win over the higher seeded team thanks to an incredible performance from the team’s lead scorer Kevin Hughes. Hughes went off for nine of the fifteen goals that UGA scored and essentially could not be stopped.

The championship game was a heated matchup with the #1 seed Vanderbilt Commodores. The Dawgs came up just short in two previous games against Vanderbilt by a combined two goals, so the stage was set for another close battle between the rivals. UGA came out strong, scored the first goal, and never looked back. They kept the lead throughout the first half, as they successfully defied Vanderbilt’s notorious press defense to score almost at will. Though the start of the third quarter had a score of 10-5 in favor of UGA with lights out playing by goalie Alex Lembeck, the game remained intense. Hughes caught a fist to the eye in the middle of the third quarter. It resulted in him having to leave the game for a couple tense moments to tend to his injury. When Hughes returned, the game appeared to be a lock for UGA, but Vanderbilt would not go down without a fight. A questionable final exclusion and roll given to hole-defense player Christian Saupe gave Vanderbilt an offensive opportunity. They scored two quick goals with about two minutes left in the game to make the score 10-8. UGA called a time out to calm the momentum that Vanderbilt had created. The Dawgs got a stop on Vanderbilt’s next offensive possession, and player-coach Phong Nguyen scored another goal to ice the game. The goal and subsequent 11-8 victory sent the UGA bench and crowd into a frenzy as the Dawgs clinched their first division championship and National Championship Tournament bid since 2010. MVPs of the game go to offensive player Kevin Hughes and defensive player Alex Lembeck. Celebrating the win, the team sang “Happy Birthday” to honor #7 Wilson Couture’s 21st birthday, and will now plan a trip across the country to attend the 2013 CWPA Club National Championships at UC-San Diego November 8-10.

(photo credits: Chris Roughgarden)

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CWPA Emory Tournament

In UGA’s opening game on October 5, 2013 against Georgia Tech, UGA was without two of its normal starters, Wilson Couture and Phong Nguyen, but was able to keep the game close throughout. The game started with a Georgia goal and by the end of the first quarter it was 2-0 in favor of Georgia. As the game progressed, the lack of two starters began to take its toll, and Georgia Tech took the lead. It was a back and forth game though, and Georgia did not allow themselves to fall behind more than one goal at a time. Kevin Hughes lead the way for UGA scoring wise as the team fell to Georgia Tech 11-10.

By UGA’s second game, Nguyen and Couture had arrived just in time to face off against Vanderbilt, the heavy favorite of the Southeastern Division. Again, the game was a dogfight, with UGA up 5-2 after the first quarter. Due to the fatigue of UGA’s team though, Vanderbilt came back. In the fourth quarter, UGA was up by two but allowed two goals to be scored in the closing minutes sending the game into overtime. It stayed a close match and by the end of the first overtime the game remained tied, so it was sent into its second overtime period. By that time UGA, was exhausted both mentally and physically and Vanderbilt was able to get the win, 14-13. Christian Saupe was the team’s leading scorer with 5 goals, but it unfortunately was not enough.

Game three featured a matchup between UGA and the University of Tennessee. In another fairly close game that saw more bench play from UGA, Georgia was able to walk away with the win, 11-9. Saupe stayed hot and continued his barrage of goals to assure UGA of their first win of the weekend all alongside a mixture of starters and bench players as the team gave their starters a well deserved rest. Both Logan Duncan and Nick Alexander scored off the bench.

The fourth game of the tournament was a lopsided win in favor of Georgia against Clemson, 20-4. The bench saw considerable minutes in this game allowing the starters to begin setting their sights on the championship tournament. Alex Ballasiotes played goalie for the last quarter as well, allowing Alex Lembeck a chance to rest his injured knee. By the end of the two regular season tournaments, all players scored at least one goal, and are ready to take on the divisional championship at Vanderbilt on October 26-27.

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CWPA Auburn Tournament

UGA opened their first CWPA tournament of the 2013 season at Auburn University on September 21-22, 2013 against the University of Tennessee in a rematch of UGA’s opening game in the Hillbilly Classic. Immediately, it became apparent the official CWPA regulations involving the clock would make this game a lot longer and slower than the running clocks of the Hillbilly Classic. With less swimming back and forth, UGA was able to come out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter with goals from Kevin Hughes, Christian Saupe and Will Gregory. As the game wore on though, the extra length of the game began to take its toll, and the amount of fouls and ejections called skyrocketed. UGA suffered the brunt of the calls, and Kevin Hughes was rolled for the first time in his career in the third quarter with his third ejection on an extremely questionable call. Without their star player, the rest of UGA stepped up their game and Christian Saupe put the game away with a goal from the perimeter to put the game essentially out of reach as the game approached the end leading 8-6. Other goal scorers included John Roquet, Wilson Couture and James Jacobi.

In UGA’s second game against Emory University, the game saw little defense with a final score of 18-12 in UGA’s favor. UGA came out strong and went up by four goals within the first quarter led by two quick goals from player- coach Phong Nguyen. The bench play was the real story of this game as the entire team rotated in and out of the game with a lot of pool time for the younger and less experienced Georgia players. The importance of slough defense also played a key roll in the game as Emory’s set attempted to score every goal from set. Having a driver slough in on the set decreased his opportunities considerably and proved to coach Nguyen that it would be the primary defense employed for the rest of the season. Other goal scorers in this game included Alex Komitor, Wilson Couture, Christian Saupe, Kyle Smith, Will Gregory, Kevin Hughes, James Jacobi and John Roquet.

UGA’s third game came against the defending Southeastern Division Champion, Vanderbilt University early Sunday morning. It was a tense game of back and forth scoring that saw a very physical style of play from both sides. This game had the most kick outs of any game of the tournament for UGA and the physicality was a huge factor in the game. The teams essentially traded goals all the way up until the third quarter when UGA went up 9-7. As the fourth quarter started though, fatigue began to set in and Vanderbilt was able to first tie the game and then go up by one goal with about two minutes left. Vanderbilt’s ferocious press defense finally came up with a stop and UGA was unable to score in the last two minutes to eventually lose 11-10.

Looking to avenge their earlier loss of the day, UGA defeated host, Auburn University 12-9 in the last game of the tournament. Another game that UGA successfully came out to a large lead to open the game, the bench was able to see quality minutes once again. Auburn continued to put up a fight though and half way through the fourth quarter the game was 10-8 in favor of UGA. The starters of UGA were then placed back into the game to secure the win with a quick goal from Kevin Hughes, the team’s leading scorer of the weekend. UGA’s next CWPA tournament is October 5th and 6th at Emory University.

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UGA’s Performance in Knoxville Looks Promising for CWPA Season

(Left to Right: Front Row- Adam Koza, Joe Debonis, Phong Nguyen, John Roquet; Back Row- Christian Saupe, Wilson Couture, Alex Lembeck, Kyle Smith, Thomas Johnson, Kevin Hughes, Alex Ballasiotes, Alex Komitor)

UGA Water Polo opened tourney play in the “Hillbilly Classic” at Knoxville on September 14-15 against the host team and fellow CWPA southeast division opponent, University of Tennessee. At a start time of 12:20pm in the notorious outdoor pool, UGA came out with a quick 6-0 lead with Kevin Hughes leading the scoring barrage at four goals. Christian Saupe and Wilson Couture also contributed a goal apiece.  With the lead in hand, the UGA scout team was put in, and UT was able to come back with four unanswered goals before the UGA starters were placed back into the game. UGA was able to secure the win 8-6 with two more goals in a game that ended much closer than it started.

In UGA’s second game, the dawgs were to play in the indoor pool matched against Dayton University, a team that had beaten the University of Tennessee in overtime earlier in the day. Though UGA came out to a slower start, they still had the lead at the end of the first half thanks to goals from Will Gregory, Kevin Hughes, and Wilson Couture. There was a lot more swimming than the previous game that had been hosted in an outdoor pool as the indoor pool setup was considerably longer. Nevertheless, UGA was able to score nine total goals in a victory of 9-6.

UGA’s third game was the quarterfinal matchup after winning their group, going 2-0 against the University of Tennessee and Dayton University. They played Purdue University in a heated contest that saw a lot of spirited play in an even matchup of skill. The scoring was back and forth with UGA led by more scoring attacks from Kevin Hughes. As a result, UGA went into the fourth quarter with a sizeable lead. It turned out to be for naught though as, leading 8-6 with about a minute to play in regulation, UGA gave up two, quick unanswered goals to send the game into overtime. Purdue quickly scored on a 5-meter penalty to secure the win and send UGA into the consolation bracket.

In UGA’s first consolation game, the officials matched them up with Ohio State University in a questionable call. It seemed neither team really had an opponent, so they made the quick decision to play each other. It was a more relaxed game as both teams used the time to let their benches see the playing field in a quiet game won by Ohio State 5-3.

UGA’s last game came against a team from Chicago. Both teams showed renewed vigor for being so late in the tournament, and UGA was able to let their bench see quality minutes in the pool again and this time able to pull out the victory of 7-5.

This season is coach Phong Nguyen’s first as player-coach, and the team returns almost every starter from last season with the exception of their goalie. He is being replaced by senior Alex Lembeck who also was making his debut as the team’s goalie. Kevin Hughes, the returning MVP of the southeastern division had an exceptional tournament, scoring at least twice in every game played for UGA and also playing considerable minutes for the would be winner, club team Dynamo from Atlanta. Other scorers during the weekend included Will Gregory, Wilson Couture, Christian Saupe, Kyle Smith and John Roquet. UGA opens CWPA play at Auburn University this weekend playing the University of Tennessee at 2:10 p.m. Saturday, September 21st.

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2013 Information Meeting- Aug. 15 @ 7:30pm

Curious about water polo? Did you swim in high school and play a little bit of polo? Did someone on the team invite you to come by? Or, do you simply want to know how we keep the horses from drowning?

In any case, come to the bleachers by the diving well in the Gabrielsen Natatorium (in the Ramsey Center) on Thursday, August 15th, 2013 at 7:30pm for a brief informational meeting. Plan to bring a suit as we will be getting in the water after. No experience necessary. See you there!

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UGA Water Polo Kicks Off Its Season At FSU

UGA Water Polo traveled down to the sunshine state to compete in Florida State University’s first ever summer tournament on July 20th-21st. Teams competing amongst UGA were FSU, FSU Alumni, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Auburn, and University of Tennessee.

Entering the tournament with just a full line, a mere seven players, UGA still came out strong scoring the first goal in every game. The first game began Saturday at 1:40pm against UF. Hoping to avenge UF from the Spring with a loss in overtime, UGA had a promising first quarter. However, exhaustion took over the small team and eventually lead to a depressing loss. Looking for ways to conserve energy, the team scouted a few players from UCF and FSU at the tournament to help them out. The next game against the host team took place that evening as the last game of the night. Once again, exhaustion took over, and UGA was defeated by FSU.

However, with some team bonding through a night out in Tallahassee and a good night sleep, UGA woke up refreshed for its final game against Auburn at 12:50pm. Winning every swim-off, UGA came on top 12-5 against Auburn. Leading scorers throughout all games were Wilson Couture and Christian Saupe.

Using this tournament as a learning experience to build endurance, UGA is excited for the upcoming season and is ready to work hard to verse some of the Florida teams in the National Championship in California this year. Special thanks goes to FSU for hosting a fun tournament, Will Winsemann from FSU for playing goalie, and to all extra players who played to help us out! Go Dawgs!

(Left to Right: Wilson Couture, James Jacobi, Mike Radford, Christian Saupe, John Kim, Kyle Smith, Alex Komitor)

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