The Harvard women’s water polo team took third place at the 12-team Collegiate Water Polo Northern Division Championships at Connecticut College in New London, Conn. this weekend. In the process, it earned the sixth seed at this weekend’s Eastern Championships, which will be held at Princeton.
Harvard 10, UMass 9<\b>
The Crimson’s biggest win of the weekend came in Sunday’s third-place game, where it played a dangerous UMass squad playing out its last campaign. UMass will eliminate its men’s and women’s water polo squads after this year due to budget constraints.
Channeling its frustration at being in the consolation game, Harvard jumped all over the Minutewomen early, dominating the first half. In doing so, it gave itself enough of a cushion to withstand a late UMass surge and come away with the 10-9 victory.
While both teams entered the game knowing they had already qualified for Easterns, the game retained importance as a determinant of seeding for next weekend’s tournament. Indeed, the Minutewomen will be seeded seventh at Princeton, immediately behind the Crimson.
Brown 9, Harvard 7<\b>
Harvard was relegated to the consolation game by a semifinal loss on Saturday to No. 16 Brown. Characteristically, it was a hard-fought contest between two teams that are very familiar with each other. The Crimson and the Bears had already played three times this season, with Harvard narrowly dropping each matchup.
“There’s definitely a rivalry between us and Brown,” co-captain Christine Meiers said. “They’re always very physical games.”
The Crimson attempted to counter the Bears’ aggressive play by being more active offensively.
The strategy met with mixed results, as Harvard hung with the favored Bears but was never able to pull away from Brown throughout the back-and-forth contest.
That left the door open for Brown, which scored a pair of goals in the fourth quarter to secure the win after the Crimson’s two-meter defender had been ejected.
While pleased with their performance, the Harvard players were not happy to have missed out on a chance to play No. 13 Hartwick, the eventual champion, in the final.
“We were all very disappointed,” Meiers said. “We were definitely the better team.”
Harvard 12, Marist 2<\b>
The Crimson began Saturday play by taking on Marist, an opponent it had not yet seen this season. Still, Harvard did not expect the Red Foxes to pose much of a challenge and planned to use the game as a tune-up for the rest of the tournament.
Harvard’s scouting proved accurate, as the Crimson dictated play throughout, cruising to the 12-2 triumph.
Harvard 10, Iona 6<\b>
Harvard opened the tournament against the Gaels, which the Crimson had beaten, 3-1, the previous weekend when it hosted the ECAC Championships, finishing fifth out of six teams.
Iona played the favored Crimson close for the first half, but Harvard took control after intermission, winning 10-6.
All weekend, Harvard relied on its active help defense to keep it in games. If it is to succeed this weekend against the No. 13, 14, 15 and 16 teams in the country at Easterns, sophomore goalie Elana Miller, senior speedster Jill Ono and the rest of the Crimson will have to be even more stingy.
But, with this weekend’s winner earning a berth in the Final Four, Harvard thinks it has as good a shot as any of its more highly regarded competitors.
“As long as we play our game, we can definitely beat any team out there,” freshman Stephanie Frias said.