The St. Francis College Men’s Water Polo team came up big with three nail-biting victories to reclaim the CWPA Eastern Championship crown and a ticket to the NCAA Final Four in California beginning December 1.
In the quarterfinals, the #1 seeded Terriers found themselves down to Navy for the first three quarters before shutting down the Midshipmen in the fourth and outscoring them 5-1 for a convincing 14-10 win.
The intensity was heightened in the semifinals when St. Francis staked the Mercyhurst Lakers to a four goal lead in the third. But the Terriers rallied again and pulled out a 12-11 victory.
The final matchup against Bucknell could not have been closer. After a 4-4 first half, St. Francis raced out to what looked like an insurmountable four goal advantage. But the Bucknell Bison chipped away one goal at time, evening the match and sending the game into double-overtime.
Bucknell struck first in OT but St. Francis ran off two consecutive goals, including the game winner from Senior Marko Gencic for a 10-9 victory.
Gencic, who scored 15 goals over the three games, including 7 against Mercyhurst, was named the Tournament MVP. Two years ago his older brother Stefan was captain of the last Terrier squad to win Easterns. The team won its first championship in 2005.
By claiming the Eastern Championship, the Terriers also take one of four spots in the NCAA Final Four, held this year in Los Angeles, CA beginning December 1. Air Force has claimed a second spot but the last two teams have not been determined yet.