Brooklyn Heights

Seven new recruits join SFC men’s water polo roster

They hail from Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Oregon

June 24, 2020 John Torenli

The St. Francis Brooklyn men’s water polo team still has a few months to go before diving into the pool for the 2020 season, if and when it is deemed safe to do so in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic.

But the possibility that the Terriers’ season won’t begin as scheduled in September isn’t stopping SFC head coach Bora Dimitrov from restocking the squad’s roster.

Last week, Dimitrov, who guided the Terriers to the semifinals of the Northeast Water Polo Conference Tournament last season, announced the addition of seven new players to the program, bringing in talent from all over Europe as well as one player from the United States.

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Paul Armingol (France), Leonidas Athanasoulias (Greece), Luka Bogdanov (Oregon), Paolo Morliere (France), Matteo Nardelli (Italy), Riyad Shehadeh (Cyprus) and Adonis Vlassis (Greece) can’t be called the Magnificent Seven just yet, but they should help bolster a team that went 19-14 in 2019.

“We are very excited to announce our incoming class of 2020! This group of guys will certainly be great additions to our program,” said Dimitrov, who watched his team beat fifth-seeded MIT in last year’s NWPC Tournament quarterfinals before the Terriers were knocked out by No. 1 seed Harvard.

“As a coach, you can tell when you are working with the recruits who do their due diligence. Every member of the incoming class demonstrated maturity, discipline, and good organizational skills during the recruitment process.”

Armingol, who hails from Aix-en-Provence, France, is described as a 6-foot attacker from Lycée Emile Zola, where he played competitive water polo on the club level and garnered a number of awards, winning the French Championship five times.

Athanasoulias, a 6-foot-4, driver from Hydra, Greece, previously attended Malmö Borgarskola and played club water polo for Vattenpolo Akademin.

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He had a decorated water polo career between playing in Sweden and Greece, earning 11 Swedish National Championship medals, one Silver medal at the Greek National Championship in 2015 and three medals with the Swedish Junior National Team in the Nordic Championship.

Bogdanov represents the lone recruit Dimitrov didn’t have to recruit from overseas, though Eugene, Oregon isn’t exactly a stone’s throw from Brooklyn Heights.

The 6-foot-2 goaltender attended South Eugene High School, where he was a member of the varsity water polo and varsity swimming teams. Bogdanov was named First Team All-Conference and earned State Honorable Mention.

Morliere, a 5-foot-9 driver from Marseille, France, represented his native country as a member of the French National Water Polo Team. He intends to major in Political Science and chose to attend St. Francis because it is a faith-based institution that is highly regarded in academics and athletics, according to a school-issued release.

Regardless of where they come from and how well they ultimately adapt to their new environs here in Brooklyn, the seven new Terriers have already made a strong impression on their coach.

“It was a true pleasure guiding all seven of them through [the recruitment] process and I am extremely excited to start working with them in person,” Dimitrov said. “Congratulations and welcome to St. Francis College!”

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SFC Brooklyn women’s head water polo coach Alana Burgess was also quite busy last week, announcing her own set of seven new recruits to the 2021 roster after the Terriers struggled to a 2-14 record in the pool this year before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sofia Kolovou (Greece), Gabriela Kostka (Chicago, Illinois), Hanna Kruppi (Regina, Saskatchewan), Mia Leto (Hollywood, Florida), Anja Miskovic (Belgrade, Serbia), Elsah Nijdam (Netherlands) and Megan Stafford (Trinidad and Tobago) will be swimming at the SFC Aquatic Center next season.

“I am very excited about the incoming freshmen class,” said Burgess, a former assistant who was in the midst of her first season as head coach of the program before play was halted in March.

“We are bringing in a very diverse group of student-athletes with a lot of experience. I am looking forward to watching them contribute and continue to help the Terriers compete at a competitive level.”

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Taylor George maintained a 3.76 GPA while guiding the BC Bulldogs to the CUNYAC title and a trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament last season. Photo courtesy of BC Athletics

Over at Brooklyn College, women’s basketball standout Taylor George was named a Scholar-Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention recipient by the City University of New York Athletic Conference last month.

“I am honored to receive CUNYAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention,” said Taylor, a CUNYAC All-Star in each of her three seasons with the Bulldogs.

“My time at Brooklyn, both in the classroom and on the court, have been nothing short of amazing,” she added. “Thank you to my coaches, teammates, and family for always pushing me to be the best version of myself. Thank you to the CUNYAC for this award, I am so glad to have been apart of this the last three years!”

George has used her lightning-quick skills at the guard position to pace the Bulldogs to two CUNYAC titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances, three CUNYAC Final appearances and a trip to the ECAC Quarterfinals.

She has amassed 1,100 career points at BC, ranking her fourth on the school’s all-time scoring list.

George has been recognized as both CUNYAC and ECAC Rookie of the Year while accumulating an impressive 3.76 GPA as a Speech Pathology Major. She is also serving as the Vice President of the Brooklyn College National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.

“Taylor is one of the best,” BC Head Coach Alex Lang said. “She competes hard all the time — every practice drill, every warmup, game, etc, and has always done it with a great attitude and with the respect, admiration and love of her coaches and teammates.

“She’s never been admonished — no technical fouls, no benching or punishment from coaching staff. I don’t remember a freshman who came in and needed as little guidance as Taylor — she was a leader and a role model for how to do things right from the start. Someone who always set a great example on and off the court.”


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