The St. Francis College Terriers were selected #12 in the pre-season 2008 Men’s Varsity Poll by the Collegiate Water Polo Association. The University of California-Berkeley was picked to defend their title this year.
The Terriers, who will open the season at the Navy Invitational, September 6-7, are once again poised to be competitive in the CWPA Northern Division. The 2007 season was a learning experience for the young Terriers, who return all but two of last year’s squad. Despite a 23-6 season record they hope to improve on last season’s second place finish at the CWPA Eastern Championships.
“It’s an honor to have the respect of the pollsters,” said Terrier head coach Carl Quigley. “We have graduated some great players so it will certainly be a challenge to live up to our ranking.”
Despite some key losses, the St. Francis squad should be in a position to improve as they return many integral players from their successful 2007 campaign, which included ECAC and Northern Division Championships. Leading the way for the Red and Blue are Nemanja Pucarevic a senior captain who is an all conference selection and was a vital member of the Terriers 2005 Eastern Championship team. St. Francis will look to Pucarevic for leadership.
Anchoring the defense will be all conference goaltender Nikola Djuric. Only a sophomore, the Terriers need him to perform well to be in the hunt for a championship. Leadership and steady play from Djuric and Pucarevic will be major keys to the season in order for the Terriers to contend.
The team will also depend on senior Or Gil whose exceptional speed makes him a valuable weapon both defensively and also on the counter attack. Sophomore southpaw Stefan Gencic and sophomore driver Boris Plavsic will be much improved with a year of collegiate experience under their belts.
Replacing graduating senior and all conference player Botond Szalma, now playing professionally in The Netherlands, will be a challenge but the coaching staff was successful in recruiting some exceptional players who are expected to make an immediate impact this season.
Freshman Filip Sasic and Aleksandar Pantic are expected to compete for playing time with an already experienced roster. Incoming freshmen driver Tamas Toth and two meter player Richard Polgar should also help ease the loss of Szalma. The coaches hope the international experience of the new players will help the Terriers work more efficiently at both ends of the pool.
St. Francis College is located at 180 Remsen Street.