Was it the halftime pep-talk?
Not according to Harvard men's water polo Coach Chris Hafferty, who saw his troops capture this year's Beanpot championship against MIT on the strength of a four-goal third quarter, 11-4, last night at Blodgett Pool.
"It's just that all year we've been a great third quarter team," Hafferty said. "We usually wake up by halftime."
Perhaps the wake-up call for the Crimson did come when it looked up at the scoreboard to find a slim, one-goal halftime lead staring back. This, against an MIT squad that was missing its leading scorer and most talented player, Co-Captain William Schnorr.
"When it's that tight, we decide we might as well just put it away," Co-Captain John Marshall said. "It's encouraging that we turned it on before the fourth quarter."
That they did. With two seconds left in the third quarter, Tom Killian delivered the knock-out punch to the Engineers, touching a Jeff Zimmerman pass into the goal. That made the score 8-3, and, for all intents and purposes, the game was over.
The Crimson third quarter scoring barrage began with goals by Mason Ford, Marshall, and Chad Barker.
While the Harvard offense was coming to life, the defense was doing the same--posting a third quarter shutout. Goalie Danny Oakes thwarted MIT offensive pressure throughout the period and also instigated several Crimson charges.
The Crimson's wave of momentum carried over into the fourth quarter, where Harvard added three more goals, while MIT could counter with only one of its own.
Through two quarters, however, this was very much a game. MIT, fresh off the heels of Wednesday's nail-biting 17-16 victory over Boston College, jumped on the scoreboard first with a goal less than two minutes into the match. Midway through the quarter, the Engineers held a 2-1 advantage, and were it not for some missed MIT scoring opportunites, it could have been more.
"In every game we have played them this year we have been ahead at some point," MIT coach John Benedick said. "Harvard probably should be beating us by more."
The Crimson had swept the Engineers in three successive matches this season, prior to last night's game. The season opener resulted in a 20-10 drubbing, followed by victories of 12-9 and 12-7.
"To be able to beat them would be an accomplishment," Benedick admitted. "Harvard is a much deeper team."
That depth was evident in the box score, where seven different Crimson players accounted for the team's eleven goals.
NOTEBOOK: Harvard travels to Princeton this weekend to compete in the Ivy League championships. According to Marshall, Harvard will find its stiffest competition from Princeton and Brown. The Crimson has never beaten the Bruins, currently the 12th-ranked team in the nation.