Close Losses Sink Crimson in Cali

Trading the East Coast for the West Coast wasn’t enough to change the fortune of the men’s water polo team. Harvard traveled to California for a four-game set at the Claremont Convergence, and ended its road trip 1-3, making the Crimson’s record now 4-10.

More startlingly, Harvard added two more one-goal losses to their total, giving them six on the season.

The Crimson lost to Pomona 3-2, and dropped its game against the No. 17 Redlands 5-4. Harvard started off day two with a 9-4 loss to No. 20 Santa Clara, and finally won its last game of the weekend 12-10 against La Verne.

While Harvard’s ability to compete with the top California teams and strong defense is a good sign, it will have to work to put away conference teams when it returns to regular play.

HARVARD 12, LA VERNE 10

Harvard was able to salvage a losing weekend with a win against La Verne on Saturday.

“We were always in control of the game,” junior co-captain Mike Garcia said. “We started off really strong.”

Sophomore Chris Ludwick scored two quick goals to give Harvard the lead. The team never trailed after that. Garcia added that Ludwick was really “fired up” before the game, and his emotional intensity helped him score two goals on counters.

“We call came out and said, ‘Let’s get it done,’” junior John Voith said. “Finally we were all just wanting to do whatever it took to keep motion and keep moving on offense.”

Freshman Jay Connolly proved to be the magic touch for the Crimson once again, as it edged out the Leopards by two goals. Connolly made seven saves during the contest.

Harvard’s offense was propelled by Ludwick and freshman David Tune, who notched four and three goals, respectively.

“Chris was real fired up before the game, he scored two quick counter goals.”

Garcia, senior Greg Valiant and sophomore Michael Byrd each netted one goal apiece.

“The win was what we needed,” Garcia said. “We came out with the intensity we needed and finished it off.” Our offense was much more active. We were just hitting shots.

Santa Clara 9, Harvard 4

The Crimson came out slow against Santa Clara during its second day of competition. After suffering two one-goal losses the day before, the deflated team was unable to muster the same strength on offense and defense to compete.

“We let them do things we normally don’t give up,” Garcia said. “They had a few counter-goals we shouldn’t have let up.”

The Broncos aggressive play pressured the defense into giving up the ball, enabling Santa Clara to score early on fast breaks. Santa Clara led for most of the game, leaving the Crimson to play a futile game of catch up.

Harvard’s four goals were contributed by Garcia, who tallied three, and junior Alessandro Lazzarini, who scored one. Santa Clara’s win over Harvard was just one of its four on the weekend, during which the Broncos were undefeated.

Pomona 3, Harvard 2

The offense’s failure to execute shots led to the Crimson’s one-goal loss against the Hens. Despite Harvard’s twenty chances at the goal, the Pomona defense remained solid, preventing the Crimson from capitalizing on its numerous opportunities.

“Our defense was good,” Garcia said. “Any other game where we only allow three goals is good.”

Senior Robbie Burmeister was in the cage for Harvard, but despite his valiant effort in goal to keep the game close—and his seven saves—the Crimson could not edge out the Hens.

“Our offense wasn’t moving,” Voith said. “We were playing at a much slower pace than normal.”

Voith and Valiant tallied the two goals Harvard had during the contest.

Redlands 5, Harvard 4

The Crimson started off its set of games at the Claremont Convergence much like it has played for the rest of the season: unable to generate enough offensive power to put a team away.

“We played pretty well for our first game out there. It was pretty much back and forth, once they got that last goal, we only had one more possession and just couldn’t score.”

Harvard turned up its offense enough to tie the game against the Bulldogs. The two teams had four goals apiece going into the final minute of the game, but the Redlands scored on a 6-on-5 to take the victory.

Connolly performed well in goal, notching 12 saves in the loss.

Garcia had his hand in the game by scoring half the team’s goals, while Byrd and Tune added one each.

The Crimson returns to conference play against Iona and Fordham next Saturday in the Bronx.

“These last two games are pretty big,” Garcia said. “If we beat both these teams we’ll have a good match up in the first round at Northerns.”

Winning the first round at Northerns will determine if the team’s season will continue into Easterns, and if Harvard can prove it won’t fall victim to coming up short.

“It’s a must-win for us,” Voith said.

—Staff writer Megha Parekh can be reached at parekh@fas.harvard.edu.

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