Coming off a strong victory against George Washington, the Harvard men’s water polo team maintained its momentum last night by defeating Ivy foes Brown and Dartmouth.
Harvard 7, Dartmouth 3
The No. 16 Crimson (8-2, 2-1 Northern) warmed up against Dartmouth’s club squad, winning 7-3 in a low-key match.
The Crimson was led by freshman goaltender Robert Bermeister, whose solid defense prevented Dartmouth from gaining any significant momentum.
On offense, the Crimson scored early and often, generating several breakaway, or uneven, situations. Crisp passing and a plethora of attackers in front of the Dartmouth goal mouth also created several chances.
Senior two-meter David Stahl led the attack, scoring three goals, while classmate Brian Choi added a pair of his own.
Harvard 11, Brown 8
In the night’s premier match, the Crimson squared off against Brown (4-7, 1-4)—and their rowdy fans.
Even prior to the opening whistle, the boisterous Bears’ fans could be heard barking at the Harvard players. But as the game wore on, their taunting became even more offensive and far more personal.
“They’re always amusing,” Bermeister said. “But I think they took things a little too far.”
After shouting slurs at the Harvard bench and forcing the Crimson squad to move to the pool’s opposite side to communicate during a timeout, the Brown supporters were escorted from the Blodgett Pool stands and their beverages were confiscated.
“They’re always rowdy,” junior driver Theo Ludwick said. “It’s funny, because every game they bring a group of drunken, rowdy fans. It creates an atmosphere.”
The game itself was a heated battle until the very end.
The Crimson began the game with smothering defense, and quickly jumped out to a four goal lead, before alternating with Brown on the next six goals, bringing the score to 7-3.
“Before the game and yesterday at practice we talked about getting the defense set and that just keys the offense,” Ludwick said.
The Crimson performed strongly against Brown’s drop-style defense—the same technique Princeton used last weekend to stifle Harvard’s offense. The Crimson spent a significant amount of practice time this week working on defeating the scheme in anticipation of other teams’ attempts to copy it.
“This week we had a drill where we did the exact same drop, a four drop,” Bermeister said. “We worked on driving the point and keeping the offense in motion. It worked pretty well; we scored a lot tonight.”
Midway through the third period, still down four goals, Brown mounted a comeback effort, scoring three goals in quick succession—closing the gap to 7-6.
“It was a little mental lapse and we were tired,” Ludwick said. “We had a lead on them but we hadn’t quite put them away so we just lost a bit of focus.”
Knowing the game was still within reach, the Crimson stopped the Bears’ charge and held the one goal lead. Ludwick then whipped a shot into the top right corner of the net to put the Crimson ahead by two.
“The second goal, the goalie just wasn’t paying attention and I took advantage,” Ludwick said.
With renewed purpose, the Crimson scored three of the next four goals to extend its lead to four. Senior driver Mike Masterson tucked two goals into the lower corners of the net, and junior Todd Schulte’s laser as the shot clock expired sealed the Harvard victory.
The Crimson heads to the West Coast this weekend looking to build on its three game winning streak.
—Contributing writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com