In 1994, after winning a semifinal game of the New England Championship tournament by beating Exeter for the first time ever, Andover—led in part by the great Rush Taylor '96, whose picture hangs at the Andover pool today—fell short to Loomis in the championship game. In 2006, after Andover Athletics legend and All-American Howie Kalter '07 scored seven unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to secure a two-goal win over Suffield in a semifinal game, Andover suffered a triple-overtime loss to Exeter in the championship game.
Today, after a seven-year absence from the Final Four, Andover again won a closely contested semifinal and again faced Exeter for the championship. But today, for the first time in history, Andover won it all, and it won it all with a packed house of 700+ people in the stands for the annual Andover/Exeter Day.
After an embarrassing 3 to 10 drubbing at the hands of Exeter just ten days ago, Andover entered the championship game against the Big Red determined to focus on those things within its control and to play its best water polo of the year.
The first quarter was dominated by goalkeeper Rome Arnold's '14 five saves as well as excellent defense by both teams. With 2:41 left in the first half, Andover found itself down 0-2, but the Andover boys remained upbeat—recognizing their great play, despite the scoreboard—and with only :21 remaining, co-captain Travis Bouscaren '14 put Andover on the scoreboard with an extraordinary shot from 10 meters. At the half, Andover was down 1-2.
Exeter started the third quarter with another goal, and Andover called a timeout. With revitalized intensity, which saw extensive movement from Joe Faller '14 and Nick Faulkner '16 along with great defense from Peter Fanikos '14 and Scott Simpson '14 against Exeter's center-forward, Michael Camarda '14 scored with 4:57 remaining in the quarter, making the score 2-3. Exeter quickly responded, but co-captain Travis Bouscaren '14 and Camarda both scored in the final minutes of the third quarter to tie the game.
Sixteen seconds into the final quarter, Bouscaren scored again, which gave Andover its first lead of the game. 326 seconds later, co-captain Andrew Yang '14 scored to give Andover a 6-4 lead with only 78 seconds remaining in the game. Exeter scored again with 62 seconds left in the game, but Andover was able to protect the cage through Exeter's multiple shot opportunities in the final seconds to secure the win.
After the game, Arnold was recognized as the tournament's outstanding goalkeeper, particularly in light of his phenomenal 20 saves in the championship game. In water polo, one rarely sees an 80% save rate, especially in a championship game. Faulkner and Yang were both named to the All-Tournament Team, and Bouscaren was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player for being the dominant force—at both the offensive and defensive ends of the pool—in the tournament.
And while only eight Andover players saw action in the final game, all the members of the Andover Water Polo team recognize their contributions—in practice and in games throughout the season—to the team win. It truly was a remarkable twenty-three hours from the start of the quarterfinal to the conclusion of the final—certainly the best twenty-three hours in the history of Andover Water Polo.
The final score of today’s championship game was a fitting, 6-5 win, the exact same score from that legendary upset in 1994. For all those great Andover players and teams from the past, the Andover boys hope this championship feels good for you, too.
ARTICLE AND PHOTO FROM PHILLIPS ACADEMY ANDOVER WEBSITE