Still riding high on last weekend's wave of victory, the Harvard men's water polo team learned that the extra incentive of revenge makes winning even sweeter.
The No. 20 Crimson (11-6 overall, 2-1 CWPA) won two consecutive matches last night at Blodgett Pool to follow last weekend's upset win over Navy.
Edged on by its successful performance at the Princeton Invitational over the weekend, the Crimson dominated MIT and Boston College, 17-5 and 7-4, respectively.
"Tonight, we came out strong from the get-go, " captain Tom Elke said. "We played a great defensive game and we were able to mount fast-counter attacks. I'm looking forward to this weekend [against Iona and Brown]."
Harvard 17, MIT 4
"All I can say is sweet revenge," junior Charlie Cromwell said.
The potent Crimson offense spread the wealth evenly last night, with 10 Crimson players scoring against a baffled MIT defense. Harvard's scoring prowess was a sure sign that the Crimson's depth was no match for the Engineers' and the Eagles' first lines.
Junior standout Mike Crosby and sophomore Istvan Sollei bolstered the Crimson's offensive effort, both delivering three goals in the MIT. defeat. Crosby scored at especially crucial moments during the match, using the Engineers' second and third quarter time-outs to rally the Crimson.
Senior Josh Bliesath, who scored his first two goals of the season against MIT, also contributed to the Crimson scoring attack.
"We came into the MIT game relaxed, and we just played our own game," Bliesath said. "The team had their eyes open and we just made it happen."
In addition to Bliesath's strong performance, Cromwell also spurred on the multifaceted Harvard offense. Cromwell, a junior who is in his first season of playing varsity water polo, has been gradually inching his way closer to a higher and more competitive level of play.
Last night, he scored on exceptional shots against both MIT and B.C.
"Against MIT, we wanted it really, really bad," Cromwell said. "We weren't going to let happen what happened last week."
At the net, the key for the Crimson was consistency. Filling the void left in the goal by ailing junior Gresham Bayne, sophomore goalie Paul Tselentis played both games in their entirety and surpassed expectations with a solid defensive performance. Tselentis had 10 saves against MIT and nine against B.C.
Harvard 7, B.C. 4
B.C. senior Will Estes contributed to the Eagles' effort with two of the team's four goals. Estes covered the pool on the offensive for Eagles, making a concerted effort to lead his team against the well-conditioned Harvard squad. B.C. sophomore Nick Riolo and senior Brian O'Neill aided Estes with one goal apiece.
"We needed to get geared up and mentally prepared," Cromwell added, "We went out there in the first game very relaxed. But, we got in there and did what we needed to do."
After a sluggish start in which the Eagles stayed close on the Crimson's heels, Harvard's competitive fire came alive during the last few minutes of the game.
Senior Dan Bazylewicz, who once competed on the varsity swim team, began the Crimson's attack during the closing minutes against the Eagles. His speed in the water was key to the success of his play in both games, as his accuracy proved precious in the final minutes.
A Bazylewicz goal put the Crimson ahead 5-4 with only a few minutes left. Zollei, following after his three-goal performance against MIT earlier last night, and Seth Cassel quickly followed after Bazylewicz with consecutive goals.
With the game at 7-4, the Eagles struggled in the face of their brisk derailment and watched the shot clock expire on them as the Crimson defense kept its offense from scoring.
Harvard Coach Jim Floerchinger's squad proved last night it is in serious contention amongst its East Coast rivals. Hoping for a successful run this weekend, the Crimson will face Iona tomorrow night. A strong recruiting class has strengthened Iona's squad, and the Crimson will battle for its national rank as it faces the team with which it is currently tied.
Brown might prove to be the Crimson's toughest opponent in New York. The Bears have split their two games with the Crimson so far this season, and the match between the two teams will be an emotionally charged battle that is sure to break the water's surface again this Saturday.