It was a bittersweet ending to the Harvard men's water polo season this weekend at the Eastern Water Polo League Championship in Annapolis, Md.
The Crimson finished fourth in the eight-team tournament, which began with a grudge match against Massachusetts. Sparked by Peter Richards' five goals, Harvard captured an 11-9 overtime victory.
Last week, the Minutemen almost put an early end to Harvard's season, defeating the Crimson at Blodgett Pool in the New England Water Polo League Championships. Because of that loss, Harvard's fate was not decided until the water-polo powers that be offered the squad a wild-card bid to the Eastern tournament last Monday.
That fact was not lost on the Crimson, which looked at Saturday's opening-round match as "a good opportunity to seek some revenge," according to senior Tom Killian.
The victory also marked the first time this season that Harvard won in overtime. Three times before Saturday the Crimson had gone into extra frames, and three times it had come away empty-handed.
"It was the best water polo we played all season," Co-Captain John Marshall said. "It was the first time we really played as a team."
Scoring came from unlikely and varied sources against UMass. Richards' five-goal effort was aided by scores from Steve Kan, Erik Atkisson, Marshall (two goals), and Co-Captain Kyle Enright--normally a defensive standout--whose second goal proved to be the game-winner with one minute left in the second overtime period.
Next the Crimson came up against Navy, and one "very wide" midshipman, Luis Niccola.
"He wasn't that tall," Marshall said, "but he was very wide."
Niccola scored seven of the Midshipmen's goals, en route to a 12-7 Navy win. With the loss, the Crimson's hopes of securing an NCAA tournament bid were squelched.
After falling to the host team, Harvard faced Slippery Rock for third-place bragging rights but lost, 11-8.