It is not often that two blowout wins and one well-played loss leaves a team disappointed. But that was just the case following the Eastern League Tournament for the Harvard men's water polo team.
The Crimson completed the tournament with a 2-1 record. It won its first two games against Fordham (23-4) and Iona (27-9), but it came up short against a tough hot team in the finals at Queens College.
The Crimson lost the tight Queens battle by a score of 11-8. The game was close up to the final minutes.
"It was even the whole way through," junior Dan Arbelaez said. "The score was 8-8 at the beginning of the final quarter. We didn't score at all in the fourth. They came through with about two minutes to go and scored three quick goals against us."
"There were a few defensive breakdowns, and they were ready to capitalize on our mistakes," he said.
Harvard coach Don Benson took a positive outlook on the game.
"I was only disappointed in the result, not the effort," Benson said. "Overall, it was our best-played game of the year. We just needed to get better production in our man-up situations."
This flaw in Harvard's attack was most apparent in the closing minutes of the game as it was unable to capitalize on a two-man advantage after Queens had broken the tie.
The players, in contrast to Benson, were far less pleased with the outcome of the game.
"This was a team we should have beaten," Arbelaez said. "Even though we played well, it was a disappointing outcome. This was a win we needed."
In a nutshell, this was a one-game tournament for the team. Queens was the only quality squad Harvard faced.
The early blowouts were a fun chance for everyone on the team to play.
"We were a much higher caliber of team," Arbelaez said. "Those games were just warmups for the big one."
And the players took advantage of the numerous scoring opportunities in the two blowouts, finding the net 50 times in those matches. Most notable was the career-high output of senior co-captain Julian Alexander, who scored seven goals in the Iona walkover.
Senior Thad Kousser had his first two goals of the season, as nine players scored for Harvard in each of the games.
Overall, the team is hoping to move on quickly.
"Everybody is very upset right now," Arbelaez said. "We need to refocus and put this game behind us. We need to look forward to the next tournament and get our priorities straight."