PRINCETON (11/16/11) - The 19th-ranked Princeton men's water polo team travels to Harvard this weekend to compete at the CWPA Eastern Championships and vie for the league's automatic berth in the 2011 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship.
Princeton is the second Southern seed for the tournament and will begin the tournament against the Northern third seed Iona. The Tigers are the second seed as a result of their second-place finish at Southerns two weekends ago at home. Princeton and Navy met in the Southern title game, which went to the Midshipmen by a 10-5 score.
Princeton is 19-9 overall and was the Southern regular season champion with a 6-2 league mark. Princeton then was the top seed for Southerns and cruised into the championship game with wins over Washington & Jefferson and Johns Hopkins before falling to Navy. In the loss, Navy broke open a one-goal game early in the third quarter with four unanswered goals. Thomas Nelson scored twice in the loss for Princeton.
The Tigers will look to return to their winning ways at Easterns this weekend at Harvard. Princeton will look to earn its third Eastern title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. Princeton was the Eastern champion in 2004 and 2009. In 2009, the Tigers avenged a Southern championship loss to Navy to run the table at Easterns and win the title.
Princeton's attempt to accomplish that again begins on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m., against Iona. Princeton and Iona have met twice this season with Princeton earning two wins. The first was a 15-4 Princeton win at the North-South Tournament and the second came in a crossover game at DeNunzio Pool by a 19-9 score. Tommy Donahue had four goals in the first game and Kurt Buchbinder's three goals led nine scorers in the second game.
The Princeton-Iona winner will meet up with the winner of the game between St. Francis and Johns Hopkins. St. Francis is the top Northern seed and Hopkins is the fourth Southern seed. The other two first-round match-ups feature Harvard hosting Navy and Brown against Bucknell. Princeton went 9-3 against the Eastern field this season and has played each of the team's except St. Francis.
Princeton is one of four teams ranked in the field. Navy is highest of the group at 15th, followed by 16th-ranked St. Francis and 18th-ranked Brown. Princeton is ranked 19th and Bucknell is a team receiving votes.