Toronto, Carleton set to continue battle for water polo supremacy at 2017 championship

Toronto, Carleton set to continue battle for water polo supremacy at 2017 championship

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Water polo’s best and brightest will venture to the nation’s capital this weekend, as the Carleton Ravens are set to host the 2017 Men’s Water Polo Championships this weekend.

Details surrounding the event can be found in the 2017 Men’s Water Polo Fan Guide.

As has been the norm for the last decade, two powerhouse teams to watch heading into the championship are Toronto and Carleton, who enter as the top two seeds for this weekend’s banner event. In fact, when looking back over the past 13 OUA championships, the Blues and Ravens are the only schools to hoist the Hershon Trophy, something both teams will be looking to stretch to fourteen.

The Varsity Blues enter as the No. 1 seed and defending champs after shutting out Carleton in the 2016 gold medal match. Toronto got the scoring started early in that match and only built on it from there, finishing with a 7-0 mark to earn their 31st OUA banner and second in three years.

One of the key figures in Toronto’s title defence is goalkeeper Emirhan Ozdemir, who not only backstopped the Blues to victory in 2016, but did so behind the strength of two shutout performances – an incredibly rare feat in the pool. Joining Ozdemir is the team’s lone returning 2016 All-Star, Euan Scoffield, as well as 2015 All-Star Sukhmun Hare, both of whom have played key roles in helping the team tally an 8-0 record against OUA competition this year.

Looking to prevent the Varsity Blues from winning their 11th OUA title in the past 16 years is the host and No. 2 seed Carleton Ravens. Along with Toronto, the Ravens have found great success in the water as of late and will be seeking their fourth conference title in the past seven years.

With the graduation of two-time Player of the Year Rodrigo Rojas, Carleton’s head coach Zoltan Csepregi will have a major void to fill in the pool, but the veteran bench boss will be able to call upon a pair of experienced veterans in Dusan Boskovic and Yorek Hurrelmann to get the Ravens back to the top of the podium in 2017.

Boskovic, a four-time OUA All-Star, will be the key man for Carleton, as shown by his two-goal effort against McMaster in last year’s semifinal which vaulted the Ravens into the gold medal match. While Boskovic can contribute offensively, his reliability as a hole guard makes him a vital defender against the other team’s top scorer.

Hurrelmann, meanwhile, will be tasked with once again protecting the Ravens’ net. Named the OUA’s Most Valuable Goaltender in 2016, Hurrelmann will be looking to draw from his 2015 championship performance against Toronto, rather than the 2016 efforts against the lethal Blues attack, to lift the hosts back atop the podium.  

While both the Varsity Blues and Ravens have earned byes in the first round of play, there will be plenty of action in the pool to open up the six-team draw, including a pair of repeat matches from 2016. Battling the Western Mustangs, who enter play as the fifth seed, will be the fourth-seeded McMaster Marauders. The Hamilton school will be looking to repeat their 2016 formula for success against the purple and white, as Mac used a balanced attack to notch a 14-5 victory in the team’s opening round game last year.  

Leading the charge for Mac will be two-time OUA All-Star Colin Colterjohn and fellow veteran Nick Davies. Colterjohn, a two-time OUA All-Star, saw his talents bring him to the FISU 29th Summer Universiade this past summer in Taipei, and along with Davies, who consistently leads the team in scoring, should pose a threat to the top three seeds in the field. The talented pair will look to help the Marauders make the jump to the podium, after bowing out to the Queen’s Gaels in the bronze medal match last year. The winner of the match will advance to play Toronto in the semifinals.

The reigning bronze medalists, meanwhile, will also take to the pool for an opening round match that mirrors their 2016 tilt. No. 3 Queen’s will face the sixth-seeded uOttawa Gee-Gees in the first round, a team that, despite going winless in 2017, found OUA championship success just two years ago with a bronze medal performance. It was a one-sided affair last year, with the Gaels delivering a 17-4 knockout punch, and the Tricolour will look to kick off the 2017 championships in similar fashion, with the right to face Carleton on the line.

All the action kicks off in Alumni Hall at Carleton University on Friday night (November 24), with the first round matches being played at 8:10pm and 9:30pm. Semifinal Saturday will get underway at 3:40pm, while the bronze medal and gold medal matches will take place on Sunday, November 26 at 10:50am and 2:00pm, respectively.