Tigers Stun Aquamen in Ivy Semis
Princeton Scores Tying Goal With :30 in Regulation, Wins 18-15 in OT; Harvard Thumps Cornell, Yale to Finish Third Overall; NE's Upcoming
Harvard water polo goalie Danny Oakes could smell the victory.
"We had them beaten, and they knew it," the Lowell senior said.
"They" were the Princeton water polo players, down 13-12 and 30 seconds away from losing to Harvard in the semifinals of the Ivy League Water Polo Championships at Brown this weekend.
The Crimson had fought back from a 12-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead, and it seemed assured of a place in the championship against Brown.
It would take the unbelievable to stop the Harvard juggernaut. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.
After a timeout, the referee in-bounded the ball to Oakes. But an aggressive Princeton attacker wrested the ball from Oakes and shot it quickly for the tying goal.
"That was a real letdown," said sophomore Jose Busquets. "We had thought that the game was over, and suddenly we had to go into overtime."
Princeton rode the momentum of the controversial play to an overtime triumph, 18-15.
"It's disappointing that we lost, but we played them really well the whole game. It was a much better effort than we gave earlier," Co-Captain Chad Barker said.
Play With The Best
"We showed we can play with one of the best teams in the East, no question about it," Oakes said.
The Princeton loss nevertheless marred what could have been an excellent tournament for the squad.
In the first round, Harvard warmed up by crushing Cornell 22-3. In one of the most lopsided victories of the tournament, goals piled up for the quick Crimson attackers.
"It was a really good team effort. (Senior) David Sandberg played well for us, as did (junior) Peter Tu," Barker said.
"We've had trouble this season in blowing lesser teams out of the water. It seems like we often play down to the level of our opponents. Against Cornell, we turned that around," Barker said.
But after Cornell was Princeton. Obviously frustrated by the loss, the Crimson rebounded the next morning to demolish Yale 21-4.
"We were kind of upset after losing (to Princeton), and Yale was the victim of our anger," Busquets said.
The Expectations Game
Harvard came home with a third place finish. Below expectations, yes, but nothing to ruffle Coach Andy Freed's immaculate Jimmy-Johnsonesque blow-dried hair.
The New England Championships are this weekend. The winner of which earns an automatic berth to the Eastern Championships the following weekend.
The national tournament follows the Eastern Championships.
Don't make travel plans yet, but Harvard is almost certain to receive one of the five at-large berths to the Easterns.
The players and Freed have been pointing to Easterns all year.
As Busquets put it, "That's the one we really want to win."
The stretch starts now.