With Brunswick’s participation in the annual California tournaments temporarily on hold, the varsity water polo team embarked on a trip across the big pond to Sabadell, Spain (just outside Barcelona), for the inaugural Next Generation Cup.
This tournament brought together emerging water polo talents from across Europe, creating one of the most high-level U19 club competitions ever held. Over three action-packed days, nearly 50 thrilling matches featuring the best youth water polo teams from water polo powerhouses Serbia, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and more were played. Brunswick proudly stood as the sole representative from the United States, and our boys embraced the honor of not only representing their school, but also their country.
The Bruins handled the six-hour time difference nicely, making the most of the opportunity to immerse themselves in Spain's rich culture and explore its historic cities during the initial two days of the journey. After one practice session and a spirited scrimmage at the iconic Piscina Municipal Montjuic, the venue of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the boys were well prepared to take on the competition in the opening games of the Next Generation Cup. True to expectations, the level of competition was extremely talented and fierce.
On the first day of the tournament, Friday, our boys found themselves locked in a tightly contested match against CN Atletic Barceloneta from Spain, which ended in an 8-8 tie. Next, they faced ASD Como Nuoto from Italy, and the Bruins secured their first win of the tournament with a hard-fought 6-4 victory.
The next day, Saturday, the Bruins began to find their stride, exhibiting continuous improvement with each game. The first game ended with the Bruins claiming their second victory against CN Sabadell from Spain by a score of 7-4. However, the team’s most formidable challenge awaited them in the form of BVSC Zuglo from Budapest, Hungary — a 100-year-old club. Hungary, renowned as an international powerhouse in water polo with a distinct prowess for shooting, met our boys head-on with physical play. By the end of the third quarter, the score was tied at 5-5. Despite the boys’ best efforts, the Hungarians held their ground, and Brunswick fell short, enduring an 11-8 defeat.
Battling the fatigue of three games in one day, the Bruins had one more hurdle to clear on Saturday. While the Hungarians are celebrated for their talented water polo teams and physicality, Serbia is rightfully equally renowned, if not more so, for their physical play and talents. The Bruins displayed remarkable grit and fortitude in the first three quarters, trailing KVK Radnicki from Serbia by just one goal at 4-3. The Serbians, though, earned five power plays in the fourth quarter, and the game started to slip away from the Bruins' grasp, concluding with a final score of 10-3 in favor of KVK Radnicki.
With only one game left to play on the final day of the tournament, Sunday, Brunswick was once again matched up against CN Atletic Barceloneta from Spain, their first opponent of the tournament. CN Atletic Barceloneta made some slight adjustments to their roster and game play, setting the stage for a rematch. The Bruins, feeling the weight of the six previous games, established an early lead but were unable to maintain it, with the final score resting at 9-5 in favor of CN Altetic Barceloneta.
The Next Generation Tournament provided an unforgettable experience for the Brunswick water polo boys. Arguably the most challenging tournament in the program's storied history, our boys rose to the occasion, frequently going head-to-head with the tournament's top teams, if not the best players in their age group in all of Europe.
Congratulations are in order for the Bruins, who secured a hard-earned sixth-place finish, and a special commendation goes to senior Ryan Ohl for his election to the “Next Gen” All-Star team — a remarkable accomplishment considering the talent pool of over 140 boys from all over Europe at the tournament.
*Report filed by Assistant Coach Evan Ciecimirski