The Harvard women’s water polo team had a tough weekend as it opened its 2003 season at the Princeton Invitational.
The No. 19 Crimson (0-4) first fell to Australian University Sport and No. 10 UCSB on Saturday. Harvard then dropped contests to No. 13 Indiana and Arizona State on Sunday.
Although the Crimson lost each of its games at the Invitational, the team will use the game experience to pinpoint the areas of its play that need improvement before league competition begins.
“It’s good to get these games early in the season and figure out what we need to work on,” Harvard coach Jim Floerchinger said. “It makes training that much better.”
Australia University Sport 11, Harvard 4
Entering the game against Australia University Sport—a team comprised of players from many Australian universities on an 18-day tour of the United States—the Crimson wasn’t sure what to expect.
But Harvard soon found out, as the Australians jumped out to an early lead with some skillful play.
“[They were] a much stronger team than we had anticipated,” captain Tiana Peterson said. “They caught us on our heels.”
Although the Australians had built a big lead by halftime, the Crimson was pleased with its play in the second half, when Harvard was able to regroup and reign in the Australians’ offense.
Junior Elana Miller and freshman Lydia Gardner performed admirably in goal, a trend that would continue all weekend.
UCSB 12, Harvard 4
Against UCSB (5-4), Harvard had the opportunity to make amends for its loss earlier that morning.
Unfortunately, the Crimson experienced many of the same difficulties it had faced in its previous match and the Gauchos capitalized on the errors.
“[We] don’t have our game shape right now,” Floerchinger said. “We had a lot of momentary lapses that other teams took advantage of.”
Harvard got a goal from sophomore Stephanie Frias, who played solidly all weekend.
“She maximized the minutes that she got,” Floerchinger said.
Indiana 8, Harvard 2
Despite suffering its third loss of the weekend against Indiana (7-4), the Crimson was happier with its opening efforts on Sunday than it was with its performances in its earlier games.
Harvard pressured the Hoosiers all morning, but was ultimately stymied by Indiana goaltender Jessica Goldner, who saved all 13 Crimson shots she faced before being replaced by a field player early in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosier defense was also strong, holding the Crimson to just five first-half shots while Indiana built a 7-0 lead.
But Harvard regrouped and turned in a strong effort in the second half, outscoring the Hoosiers 2-1.
Both Crimson goals came courtesy of freshman Arin Keyser.
“Arin showed a lot of control,” Peterson said. “She wasn’t intimidated.”
Arizona State 8, Harvard 2
In its final action of the weekend, Harvard fell to Arizona State (6-6) in a hard-fought game. The Crimson again struggled at the beginning of the contest.
“We started each game a little timid,” Peterson said.
Harvard also continued to have a problem with its early-season conditioning, as the Sun Devils—who were playing their twelfth game of the season—were able to utilize their stamina to create numerous counterattacks.
Keyser and Frias continued their strong play, accounting for Harvard’s goals.
According to Peterson, the team’s struggles on the weekend resulted largely from its inexperience and the players’ unfamiliarity with each other.
With just two juniors and a single senior making the trip to Princeton, it was even more difficult for the Crimson to compete against teams that had already played five or more games this season.
But if inexperience is the issue, Harvard should be able to resolve its troubles fairly quickly.
“We saw so much improvement from the first game to the last game,” Peterson said. “I think that this weekend will be an anomaly. This team is the most tenacious, most aggressive group of players that I’ve been with in my four years here. We’re just lacking game experience.”