This history page is a continuous work in progress. We will continue to update and correct it as we get more information. If you notice anything incorrect or missing, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. We would love to add as much detail as possible for every season! We would like to thank The Heights, the BC newspaper whose archives made this page possible. In addition, we would like to extend our thanks to all BC Water Polo Alumni who assisted us by sending us information about their seasons. A full list of acknowledgments and all articles referenced can be found here.
Early Years (1972-1985)
Boston College Men's Water Polo was founded as a club in September of 1972. The Eagles' first game was against MIT, the reigning Division I New England Champions, which ended in a stifling 31-3 loss at the hands of the Engineers. The second game was no better, a 36-1 loss to Phillips-Exeter Academy, made far worse by the fact the opponent was a high school. Both of these losses made it apparent to player-coach Tom Groden that the team needed to train more seriously. By Spring, now officially a part of the Division II New England League, the team was far more prepared and ready to win. They proved their thirst for victory by being crowned the DII New England Champions at the end of their inaugural season. In the fall of 1973, even as their league expanded to include more competitive teams, the Eagles were hoping to repeat as champions. They eventually fell just short, losing to University of Connecticut 9-5 in the final game of the championship tournament. The next season, in 1974, the Eagles preformed admirably, winning a majority of their games and avenging their loss to Phillips-Exeter by a score of 17-2. This win showed how far the club had come in just two short years. In 1975, BC bested Williams College to be named the Eastern Small Pool Water Polo Champions.
The 1976 season proved very successful, despite the fact that five starters were lost to graduation, as the Eagles were able to pull off a 3rd place finish at the Eastern Water Polo Championships at Brown University. In 1977, BC was named the New England Champions by score differential against Southern Connecticut and Trinity. Chip Reynolds, Neil Costello, and Goalie Mark Gallivan were named to the All-New England team after the victory by the Eagles. Continuing on to Easterns for the second year in a row, the Eagles once against finished 3rd. The 1978 season marked the highest finish for the team since its birth six years prior. The Eagles ruled New England once more and made it to the finals game of Easterns where they lost to Monmouth College. Groden, in his final season as coach, lead the team to an impressive record of 19-5.
Due to trouble with funding leading to the inability to hire a coach, the Eagles had a tough outlook for the 1979 season. In spite of this, they were still able to end up third at the New England Championship with David Greenough earning All-Eastern Honors and Matthew Lyness, Paul Webber, and John Baker earning All-New England Honors. At the beginning of the 1980s, the team struggled to maintain momentum without adequate funding, dropping a number of games and having trouble advancing in the championship tournament. The drought ended in 1984, when the team advanced to Easterns once again, where they finished 8th. In 1985, the Eagles finished their final season as a club as New England Division II Champions with a record of 12-1.
Varsity Years (1986-2001)
In the summer of 1986, senior captain Tony Ryan wrote to the athletic director at the time, Bill Flynn, asking that he promote the water polo team to varsity status. By doing so, the team would receive a $6,000 grant from USA Water Polo. Due to the possibility of the grant, success in competition, and growing interest in the sport, Flynn agreed to classify the team as a non-funded varsity program. In conjunction with this rise to varsity status, the Eagles moved up to Division I in New England to compete with Brown, Harvard, Yale, MIT, and UMass. This move provided the team with a level of competition far superior than that faced in Division II.
Adjusting to this competition would take time, and therefore, in 1987, the Eagles had a humbling record of 1-12. The following season, the team improved to 6-13, including an upset win over Brown, a team ranked 11th in the nation at the time. This victory showed the potential of the developing squad. Junior Richard MacDonell adequately stated, "Brown had to be a BC at some point. We're young, we have to start somewhere." In 1989, the team further improved to 7-12, including its first victory over MIT by a score of 15-8. This win was especially noteworthy given the first game BC water polo ever played was against MIT.
The start of a new decade in 1990 brought with it full funding as well as a new coach. Gerry Moss coached the Eagles to an improved 8-12 record in 1990, and in 1991 the team had its first-ever winning season as a varsity program. Led by tri-captains Stephen Dore, Maarten Kraaij Vanger, and Leigh Utterback, the Eagles went 12-7, beating nationally-ranked teams such as Iona, Harvard, and UMass in some of their wins, and falling by small margins in most of their losses. The Eagles entered the 1992 season in rebuilding mode as they lost their tri-captains from the year before to graduation and lacked an experienced goalie for the first few weeks. Despite having only 13 players on the roster, five of which swam on the varsity swim team at BC, Moss coached the team into a fourth-place finish at the New England Division Championships. The leading scorer for the Eagles, Randall Gilberd, amassed a formidable 75 goals in the team's 10-15 season.
Weeks before the start of the 1993 season, the fate of the team was uncertain. In addition to only five of the 18 players on the team being upperclassmen and losing the two best players to graduation (including Gilberd), the Eagles were without a coach. Luckily, George Ladd arrived just in time from UMass, a perennial top-20 team nationally, to guide the Eagles. Despite much adversity, including less than adequate practice times and facilities, the team made the Northern Division Playoffs, where its season eventually ended. The year of 1994 proved to be another tough season for the Eagles despite a valiant recruiting effort by Ladd. A number of talented freshmen joined the ranks of the team and saw meaningful time in the pool, but the team could not work as a cohesive unit. As such, the Eagles did not qualify for the eastern championships that year.
The 1995 season would appear from the outside to be like any other with a final record of 7-14. The team finished sixth in the east, however, and senior Marcus Williams was named to the All-East Second Team, being the first varsity Eagle on record to receive that honor. In 1996 and 1997, the Eagles had similar seasons, making it to the Eastern Playoffs before falling to nationally-ranked UMass and Harvard.
In August of 1998, recently appointed Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo announced that in order to bring BC's Athletic Department into compliance with Title IX, men's water polo, lacrosse, and wrestling would be designated as club sports. In order to be fair to athletes already recruited to the teams, the effect would not take place until 2002. Returning five of seven starters from the 1997 season, the Eagles were hopeful to improve in the East in one of their final seasons. The inability to recruit effectively proved detrimental to the team, not allowing for replacement of the talent lost to graduation. As such, the team struggled in its final years, until its last season in the fall of 2001.
Modern Years (2002-Present)
Being designated as a club sport was not a seamless transition for the team. Going from varsity to club required a larger effort on the player's part to organize and fund their program. The annual funding was reduced and was no longer provided by the Athletic Department, but rather as part of the University's overall budget. The Eagles moved into the New England Division of the CWPA, an 8 team conference of collegiate club teams which included other teams changed from varsity to club, such as UMass and Yale. In 2002, four Eagles were named to the All-Conference teams, Nick Riolo and Chris Lucarz to the First Team, and Brendan Lavelle and Mike Good to the Second Team.
In the 2003 season the Eagles moved to the North Atlantic Division and Lucarz was once again named to the First Team All-Conference. In 2004, BC had two players honored on the All-Conference Second Team, Ben Adams and Goalie John Kelly. Kelly was honored on the First Team All-Conference in 2005 along with Greg Johnson, Jack Connelly, and Adams on the Second Team. In 2006, after years of readjusting and rebuilding the Eagles had a 6-2 regular season, entering the Division Championship tournament as the second seed. Defeating Bates College and Colby College in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, BC moved into the finals game against undefeated Dartmouth College. The Eagles defeated the Big Green 12-11 to advance to their first national tournament since the team was made a club in 2002. Johnson was named to the First Team All-Conference and Kelly and Sean Johnson were named to the Second Team.
The year of 2007 marked yet another reshuffling of the CWPA, which moved BC, Dartmouth, and number of the other North Atlantic Division teams back into the New England Division. The Eagles were runner ups in 2007 behind Middlebury College with Kelly, Greg and Sean Johnson, and Patrick MacDonnell being named All Conference. The Eagles once again finished second in 2008 with a record of 8-3, this time losing to Dartmouth in the finals game by a score of 7-6. Both Greg and Sean Johnson were named All-Conference and Greg made history by being named to the All America Honorable Mention, the first Eagle to receive that honor. In 2009, the Eagles entered the championship tournament seeded 2nd, but after an upset loss to Wesleyan in the quarterfinals by a score of 7-6, finished fifth overall. BC's final record was 9-2, second only to the Division Champions Yale's record of 11-0. Sean Johnson was named First Team All-Conference, while Peter Ferguson and Carlos Cannon were named to the Second Team.
In 2011, after taking a hiatus in 2010, BC shocked the Division by becoming the first team to defeat Yale in 3 years by a score of 12-10 in a regular season tournament. While BC would eventually be defeated by Yale in the semifinals of the championship tournament and therefore not make it to the finals, it showed that despite not practicing for a year, the team was still a competitive force. Ferguson was named to the First Team All-Conference and Cannon was named once again to the Second Team. The team finished 4th in the division with a final record of 8-4. The 2012 season showed that the team continued to progress, having an impressive 7-1 regular season record, the Eagles finished second in the championship tournament behind Dartmouth, with a final record of 9-3. Parker Condi was named an All America Honorable Mention and First Team All-Conference, and sophomores Charlie Manclark and goalie Caleb Bower were named to the Second Team. In 2013, the Eagles had an almost identical season, having a 7-1 regular season record and finishing second behind Dartmouth once more. However, their final record was slightly more favorable with 10 wins and 2 losses. Manclark was named to the First Team All-Conference while Bower and Senior Ethan Sullivan were named to the Second Team.
The 2014 season was one of the most successful in the team's history. The first game of the season was against Dartmouth, who finished 4th at nationals the year prior, with both teams trying to show the division their dominance. In a sudden death overtime thriller, the Eagles emerged victorious 10-9. BC remained undefeated the rest of the regular season, finishing with a record of 8-0. In the championship tournament, Boston University shocked Dartmouth in the semifinals, leading to the first ever match up of BC and BU in the finals game of the tournament. The Eagles easily dispatched the Terriers 9-2 to punch a ticket to the National Collegiate Club Championship, the first time since 2006. Winning their first two games against Vanderbilt and Penn State 18-3 and 10-9, respectively, the Eagles flew into the quarterfinals for the first time in team history. Falling to San Diego State 11-7 and University of California 10-9, BC finished 4th. Junior Dan Kelly was named First Team All-Tournament and All-America, while Bower and sophomore Sean Fisher received Honorable Mention honors. Kelly was the first Eagle to ever be named to the All-America First Team. Bower, Kelly, and Fisher were all named to the All-Conference First Team, while seniors Nick Henze, Manclark, and Ricky McEntee were named to the Second Team.
Following the success of the previous year, the Eagles hoped to make yet another run to nationals in the 2015 season. This would not be an easy task, as they had lost five of seven starters, and had a senior class of only four players. Returning All-Americans Kelly and Fisher, BC posted a strong 7-1 regular season record, only losing to Dartmouth 9-7. The teams would not face each other again until the Division Championship game. While the Eagles would eventually fall to Dartmouth 7-5 (who ended 4th at nationals), they only lost two starters going into the 2016 season. Fisher was named to the All-America Second Team while Kelly, and sophomores John Treinen and Trevor Prince were named Honorable Mentions. All four were named to the All-Conference First Team and freshman Colin Derdeyn was named to the Second Team.