The Bowdoin Men's Water Polo Team will wrap up its season this Saturday at the North Atlantic Division Collegiate Water Polo Championships.

Bowdoin will be playing host to the two-day tournament this year, where eight teams from all over New England will vie for the division title and a berth to the National Championships in St. Louis.

Despite being a club sport at Bowdoin since 2000, the water polo team has existed in relative obscurity amongst the athletic student body, partially due to the fact that the sport has traditionally enjoyed more popularity on the West Coast than in the East.

Often described as a combination of swimming, rugby, and basketball, water polo consists of a goalkeeper as well as six "field" players who maneuver the ball around a central two-meter position to score goals.

Water polo, as goalie and co-captain Jon Freedman '08 explained, is a demanding sport where players tread water for the duration of the match and "end up swimming over one and a half miles during a game," while fending off grabs, jabs, punches, and kicks from underwater.

Co-captain Jim Bittl '08 recalls a tournament held at Colby earlier this year where a player from the opposing team was cut in the eye during a particularly rough game.

Although the Collegiate Water Polo Association designates the fall season as men's season, the Bowdoin team is co-ed, with three girls among its ranks this year.

Despite losing key players from last year's team to graduation and study abroad, the team remains strong and has benefited from the entrance of a solid first-year class. While several players, including Keith Heyde '11 and Simon Ou '10, had water polo experience in high school, the majority of members had not previously played.

First year Roger Brothers was new to the sport when he arrived at Bowdoin.

"I sort of played water polo goofing around with my swim team, but it was a lot harder than I was expecting it [to be]," Brothers said.

Although the team' s first tournament at Colby yielded a 0-3 record, with losses to Bates, Tufts, and Trinity, the team has since shown significant improvement.

At a tournament the weekend of September 29-30, Bowdoin secured a solid 15-2 victory over the University of Vermont.

Against Amherst, the Bears rallied from a five-goal halftime deficit to bring the score to 10-11 in Amherst's favor.

"We've established a pattern of being a very strong second half team," said Josh Kimball '09.

Freedman anticipates a "close game versus Amherst on Saturday."

"I think we have a really good chance for an upset this weekend because we played so well in the second half of our last game," Brothers said. "If we play that same way, we should dominate."

Regardless of this weekend's outcome, Freedman and Bittl agreed that the season has been a success, especially given the fact that the team has not had a coach.

"Everyone on this team brings something different to the tournaments. Be it experience or speed or just brute force, I think it is really cool how we all mesh together and make a really great team," Freedman said.

Bowdoin will face No. 2 seeded Amherst at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday. The outcome of that match will determine the Bears' seed for the next two games of the tournament.