2011 NCAA® MEN’S WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
Spieker Aquatics Complex • Berkeley, Calif.
THIRD-PLACE MATCH – Princeton (9) vs. UC San Diego (7)
PRINCETON POSTMATCH HEAD COACH QUOTES
HEAD COACH Luis Nicolao
Obviously we’re really excited with the outcome. I thought it was a really well-played, hard-fought game by both teams. There were some crucial points, and we were just lucky to get that go-ahead goal late in the game to hang on. I thought both squads played well, a lot of great opportunities, some good defensive effort. Overall I thought it was a shame to lose, but I’m happy to win that game.
On Game-Defining Moments:
I thought Drew’s first goal when we got down 2-0 – when you get down three goals, that’s kind of hard to come back from sometimes – I thought that kind of stopped the bleeding and got it back under control. We got confident again. That was a big point in the game. When (UC San Diego) got back to 7-7, then we were able to take a deep breath, take a timeout and get that next goal. They had two chances in a row there to get that eighth goal – off a loose ball, a missed shot – so to make some stops there, those were two big moments in the game.
On Finishing Third for the Second Time in Three Years:
It’s great. It’s great for our program. It’s great for polo on the East Coast. Any chance you get to win a game in the final four – we know there’s a tough game for us, and we hope to show better than that – any time you get to win one of these games, it’s a great accomplishment.
On What it Means for the Future that Eight of Princeton’s Nine Goals Today Were Scored by Freshmen:
That’s been the way for most of the year. We’ve had a balanced attack with four freshmen (who) had over 40 goals this year, and some sophomores the same way. Probably the strength of our team is we don’t rely on one guy. We’ve got a couple different guys that can put the ball in the net. Today you saw that with two, three freshmen scoring some big goals.
On How the Success of the Freshmen Will Impact Next Season and Recruiting:
Right now we’re excited about what happened today. I think we know we’ve got a strong nucleus for next year. At the same time there’s going to be a lot of competition back east. We’re going to have to be that much better. I don’t think we’re going to surprise anybody like maybe we did this year. But I always tell the guys when you put the cap on, you’re not a freshman, you’re not a senior – you’re a water polo player. You all come from great club programs. You’ve all played high-level games, whether it’s in high school or in the summer time. Once the whistle blows, you’ve just got to go out and play.
On Whether Princeton Sought to Bring About UCSD Player John Butler’s Third Exclusion:
Not really. I think it was just in the flow of the game. To be honest with you, I was more concerned with what was happening at both ends. Both squads have a deep bench, so I knew, yeah, they lost a key player, but they have players that can fill in.
PRINCETON POSTMATCH PLAYER QUOTES
CENTER Thomas Nelson
On His Last Goal Late in the Game:
On the last goal we orchestrated it so it happened that way. We started out Drew had the ball up top and the play was for Tim (Wenzlau) to post up at 2 (meters). I was going to go up and try to get the foul shot or work the ball against (his defender). Sam (Butler) got me the ball, and I was able to draw the foul. I just saw the goalie was going more towards his right. I saw a lane past the defender’s hand and put it there, and it went.
On What Winning the Third-Place Game Means for East Coast Water Polo:
For me it’s a very cool experience because growing up in the area, I was always used to going to Avery (Aquatic Center at Stanford) and coming here (to Cal), watching the NCAA Championships and seeing those guys. ‘Oh, they’re so good. How can we ever be like that?’ But through hard work and playing with my club, it can happen. That’s what this showed. I was the one in the pool this time; not just watching. I thought it was a really cool experience.
ATTACKER Drew Hoffenberg
On Winning the Third-Place Game Means for East Coast Water Polo:
It means a lot. Traditionally all the West Coast teams have been the powers and have really dominated the NCAAs. A few years ago we actually came in third when it was at Princeton, which was great. And then now to be that (third-place winner again), I think it really shows that more parity is coming into the league (NCAA), especially because we had so many freshmen and sophomores and juniors step up, it shows that the future of East Coast water polo is pretty bright and that there’s actually some chance of dethroning a top-four team and making more equality in the league (NCAA).