Hey Tech Water Polo Fans! Hope the start of summer is treating you well. Despite our delays in regular posting, Tech had a very full spring season, attending five tournaments under the watchful eyes of our new coaches Brian Twynham and Steven Kuehnle . The Yellow Jackets first traveled to Orlando to play in the Knights Open in January. Following this, we took a short trip to Auburn for the annual Chris Young Tournament. After Auburn, Tech attended an FSU invitational in late February, a UGA tournament in late March, and wrapped up the season at the UNC Easter invitational in early April. These tournaments served as great preparations for the fall season as the team played against some very tough masters and college teams.
The Chris Young tournament at Auburn was a great opportunity for our small squad of seasoned starters and first-timers to get a lot of play-time. In fact, our goalies even got to spend some time in the field! Georgia Tech started the day with a close win over the University of Central Florida Knights, who we had last seen down in Orlando. We then faced our regular-season rival Vanderbilt in another hard fought game that saw Tech pull through with another victory. The next morning we faced a tough Florida State University team that handed Tech it’s first loss, knocking the Jackets out of the championship game. However, Tech was now scheduled for the 3rd place game, once again facing the UCF Knights. As the Knights elected to leave early for their long drive home, Tech played an exhibition game against Auburn, earning another victory. Finishing third at Chris Young, this small Tech squad came home feeling quite accomplished.
The third tournament of our season was down in Tallahassee, Florida as the Florida State Seminoles hosted their first Fear the Spear Invitational. The Yellow Jackets brought a very strong team, as they looked to compete against some of the best college club teams in Florida and avenge their previous losses. Tech played first against against the Florida State “B” team, who while playing a great game, were easily overwhelmed by our Jackets, who ultimately won by several goals. After a short break, Tech went back to the pool to play a rematch against the University of Florida club team. Just like the game against UF at the CWPA Club National Championships, this game was close and hard fought. Unfortunately, just like the game at the Championships, UF came out on top by a couple of goals. After suffering the loss against a good UF club, Georgia Tech headed back the hotel for some needed R&R. The Yellow Jackets came back to the pool on Sunday to play the semifinal against the tournament hosts, the FSU “A” team. After a see-saw battle, FSU managed to pull away in the final quarter to knock the Jackets out of the tournament. All in all, this tournament was one of the better tournaments of the spring for Tech.
In another local skirmish, Georgia Tech headed over to Athens, GA for the UGA Spring Classic Tournament. Our first game pitted Tech against the UGA alumni team, in a spirited rivalry game which Tech won handily. Following this victory, Tech found itself facing the UCF Knights once again. This time, however, UCF found itself victorious, and would continue its winning streak all the way to the championship game, where they placed second. Following this loss, Tech had a late afternoon game against a newly-formed Alabama squad. Tech’s experience won through, however, and the Jackets added another victory notch to their belt.
Finally, Georgia Tech traveled up to the University of North Carolina for the big Easter weekend invitational tournament hosted by the UNC club team. More than 20 different men’s water polo teams arrived to the UNC pool to compete. Georgia Tech found itself placed in the Blue bracket, squared up against three tough teams. In the first game, GT faced the club team from Carnegie Mellon. After a sluggish start due to the 8 am gametime, Tech was able to recover and narrowly beat the CM team. After a short break, GT came back to play West Point. Although not as physically fit as the Black Knights, Tech was able to play a complete game offensively and defensively, taking a slight lead at the end of the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets were barely able to hold on to the win to obtain two victories in as many games. Our final game of the day came against the Penn State club team. Both teams were exhausted from a long day of water polo, but managed to produce a good and even match. When the water settled, GT came out on top, going 3-0 . Seeding for the following day was determined by a complex system of wins, goals scored against, and goal differential. Unfortunately, due to a worse goal record than the other 3-0 teams, Tech only obtained the third seed from the blue bracket and ended up playing for 5th place against the third seed NOVA masters team from the white bracket on Sunday. The NOVA water polo team is a very good masters teams of seasoned veterans from Northern Virginia, who would go on to lose to the eventual winners of the tournament by one goal. The Yellow Jackets were overwhelmed by this more experienced NOVA team, losing by a considerable margin. That left GT in 6th place after going 3-1 in the tournament. This was a very good result for Tech considering that the team only had 11 players, two of them being goalies who found themselves playing in the field.
The spring tournaments were not only a load of fun, but were also very good tests of our team’s progress this year. A lot of newer players got plenty of playing time, and Tech had the opportunity to develop and test new plays and strategies. With all the close games Georgia Tech played, particularly against significant competition, the Yellow Jackets are confident for their main fall season. As the summer approaches, the team reminds all the players to stay in water polo shape as much as possible so that everyone can come back ready to make a splash on the national club scene.