The Harvard water poloists took third place in the Army Invitationals at West Point last weekend with two high-scoring romps over St. Francis (18-6) and Army (11-1) and a heartbreaking, 7-4, loss to tournament champion Fordham University. Defending champion Yale settled for second place.
"We did better than we should have," Mike Graff, team captain, said Monday. "Even though the team was third-seeded, we had everthing against us before the first game started."
The Crimson played without three of their top starters. Peter Hursh was still out with an injury and Dan Daiss and Fred Mitchell were tied up with personal commitments, Graff said.
But the incomplete Harvard squad successfully buried a floundering St. Francis team, 18-6, in Saturday's first round of play.
Graff took advantage of St. Francis's lackluster defense by switching from defense to offensive forward. All St. Francis could do was splash water as Graff aided by Pete Kellogg, fired five of Harvard's eight first-quarter goals.
Scoring for the rest of the match was evenly divided among Tracy Mallory, Kellogg, and Brian Mendis. "Newcomer Brian Mendis added a lot to the effort," Graff said. "It was a good, fun game."
Hot from the opening victory, the Crimson faced Fordham but found they were up against a brick wall. "We couldn't move against those guys," Graff said. "They are a very physical team and play a very close defense. They seemed a little out of shape, but that didn't seem to matter. They played hard."
The Crimson managed to hold Fordham to a 3-3 stalemate at halftime but the Ram's big center forward Rich Kelley broke through a tiring Harvard defense for his team's winning goals and Harvard's first loss of the season.
The game against Army on Sunday was a cinch. While the Crimson ran up the score, Army could only muster enough energy to throw four shots, all of them missing the goal. The cadets finally narrowed Harvard's lead to 11-1, by scoring on a free penalty shot in the last 20 seconds of the game.
Harvard's water polo team, now with a 14-1 win-loss record, will vie with several other New England teams for the regional championship at MIT this weekend. The Crimson, a perennial New England terror, is a heavy favorite, although Brown, who lost to Harvard by only one point two weeks ago, could win it all.