Another round of the CWPA Championship, another thrilling victory for the 18th-ranked Princeton men’s water polo team, as the sixth-seeded Tigers edged third-seeded Navy, 9-8, in the semifinals.
With the victory Princeton improves to 22-5 on the year and more importantly punches a ticket to the title game versus defending conference champion St. Francis on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Princeton managed to come out on top versus Navy in the fourth meeting this season, redeeming its loss in the semifinals at the Southern Division Championship to the Midshipmen and winning the season series 3-1.
Saturday’s contest proved to be evenly matched with control coming at a premium. Navy did jump out to a 2-0 advantage after the first, before the score was knotted 4-4 at halftime and 6-6 after the third quarter.
With eight minutes to decide if their season would advance, the Tigers opened with a Drew Hoffenberg goal. Navy responded rattling off consecutive scores of its own to take an 8-7 lead at 4:59.
Led by crucial defensive stops, Princeton rallied back with a pair of Thomas Nelson goals at 4:30 and the game-winner at 1:51 to send the Tigers to the championship game.
Nelson finished with a team-high four goals and added two steals, Hoffenberg had three goals and a team-leading four steals, and goalie Alex Gow made 10 saves and a steal.
No. 18 Princeton: 0 - 4 - 2 - 3 - 9
No. 16 Navy: 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 8
Goals: Nelson 4, Shannon 1, Hoffenberg 3, Kuprenas 1
Assists: Buchbinder 1, Kuprenas 1
Steals: Nelson 2, Galainena 1, Butler 1, Hoffenberg 4, Buchbinder 1, Jeremic 3, Gow 1
Saves: Gow 10