U of T’s men’s water polo team ended their 2002-03 season in spectacular fashion, winning their first OUA championship since 1996 with a 9-8 victory over the McMaster Marauders on Sunday.
The final, which was held at Queen’s University, caps off an incredible regular season in which the team went undefeated with a record of 9-0-1. This season saw them taking great strides, as last year’s squad failed to qualify for the conference playoffs. Ontario’s top four teams qualify for the playoffs with the teams playing a round-robin at the championship tournament.
In a remarkably close game, the Blues got huge offensive performances from Mark Fernandez, David Cescon and Matt Oliver, who had two goals each to lead the Varsity Blues over the defending champion Marauders. Fernandez, who led the conference with 41 goals during the regular season, also scored four times in Saturday’s 14-8 semifinal victory over the Western Ontario Mustangs.
Tournament host Queen’s Golden Gaels won the OUA bronze medal with an inspired 7-6 win over Western. A Rob Prentice hat trick spurred the Gaels to victory after a disappointing showing in the semifinal.
The Varsity Blues men’s water polo team joins three other U of T teams that have claimed OUA crowns in 2002. Women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer and women’s cross-country (also Canadian Interuniversity champions) have also grabbed OUA banners this season.