The Cambridge Water Polo team's record-setting season ended Saturday, September 30th, with the team taking second place in the DIII State Championship Tournament. Cambridge achieved the right to play in the D3 State Championship game by winning their two tournament bracket games on Saturday before matching up with Dalton in the Championship Game.
State Tournament Round Two – APS B vs Cambridge
It was a very exciting day for the team and the fans. Cambridge had a bye in the first round having finished the regular season in third place with an 8-3 record. In round two of the tournament Cambridge played APS B. After a slow start to the game, Cambridge settled down and scored six goals while holding APS B to only one goal. Five players for Cambridge scored a goal with Drew Hill scoring two goals.
State Tournament Round Three – Cambridge vs Collins Hill
The win over APS B set up a show down with the regular season second place team, Collins Hill Eagles, who had defeated Cambridge two weeks before by a score of 13-7. Like in the previous game against Collins Hill, Cambridge scored first on a goal by Callum Parker. Cambridge deployed a strategy to slow the game down and take advantage of their size and strength over the speedy Eagles. Even with the purposeful formations and strategy, at the end of the first quarter the Eagles had taken a 2-1 lead. The second quarter was a draw with both teams scoring two goals to make it 4-3 at the half in favor of the Eagles.
In the third quarter, Cambridge outplayed Collins Hill scoring five goals to the Eagles three goals to take the lead 8-7 while continuing to stick with the game plan to slow the game down and make Collins Hill play the Cambridge style of play.
This set up a very exciting fourth quarter with the two teams and their fans in a loud frenzy for nearly the whole seven-minute period. Cambridge was able to score two minutes into the fourth quarter to push their lead out to 9-7. Collins Hill was not going to go down easy. They battled back to score with 3:50 left in the game to make it a one score game at 9-8. From there it was a defensive struggle with each team giving it their all with every stroke, pass, and shot attempt. Cambridge Coach Lee called a timeout with 1:02 left in the game to substitute out a Cambridge player who was having leg cramping and set up the defense. The Cambridge defense successfully held off the attacks by the Eagles until Cambridge was able to get the ball back with just under 35 seconds on the game clock. Cambridge executed a version of the four-corners, passing the ball around to keep it away from the Collins Hill players until time ran out and they had secured the amazing win.
Four players scored in the win over the Eagles but it was Callum Parker who led the team with his six goals. Coach Lee was particularly proud of the way the whole Cambridge team executed the game strategies that the team had worked on in practices since the regular season loss to the Eagles two weeks prior. After the game, Coach Lee stated 'Our defense and making Collins Hill play our slowed down style was the difference in a very exciting game.'
State Championship Game – Cambridge vs Dalton
The win vs Collins Hill put Cambridge into the State Championship final game against Dalton on Saturday. Dalton came into the tournament seeded #1 as they finished the regular season undefeated. Early in the season, Dalton had defeated the Cambridge team 16-3.
Dalton, lead by some very strong swimmers, scored first and at the end of the quarter had a 6-3 lead. Cambridge kept battling in the second quarter with both teams scoring two goals to make it 8-5 at the half.
In the third quarter, Dalton showed their strength and outscored Cambridge 5-1. Cambridge had their chances with had multiple shots on goal but the Dalton goalie was able to stop a number of good goal shots by Cambridge.
Cambridge did not give up and kept pushing Dalton in the fourth quarter. Both teams scored two goals to make the final score Dalton 15, Cambridge 8.
This team set a number of new records for the Cambridge Water Polo program. Besides the second place finish in the State Championship Tournament, the team set a new season record with 10 wins, finished third in the league for the regular season, and scored a season record 128 goals.
Coach Lee and Assistant Coach Pollifrone were pleased with the tremendous progress the team made during the regular season and the effort the whole team put forth in all three-tournament games played on Saturday. Coach Lee remarked 'With only three seniors on the team, there is lots to build upon for the Cambridge Water Polo program for next year.'
Three Cambridge Water Polo players were named GHSWPA League All-Stars. The three Cambridge All-Stars are Nick Iline, Callum Parker, and Brandon Lee. Congratulations to these three players on their season long achievements and selection as League All-Stars. The All-Star game will be played on Saturday, September 14th at Wesleyan.