Two Victories Give Men's Water Polo Much-Needed Momentum

Crimson now has two weeks to prepare for Northern Championships

TUNE UP
Lela A. Brodsky

Freshman David Tune, shown in earlier action, had a pair of goals in the Crimson’s 5-2 win over Iona on Saturday.

With the season winding down, the men’s water polo team found itself needing two wins at Fordham on Saturday to earn an easier first-round matchup in the postseason.

For the first time all year, the team put together a three-game win streak and showed it has worked the kinks out of its system. A strong defensive effort against Iona led to a 5-2 win in its first match. Harvard’s offense took the lead as the Crimson returned to the pool and outgunned Fordham by an 11-7 score in the nightcap.

“We have so many guys who can contribute in a variety of different ways,” junior John Voith said.

With the wins, the Harvard squad moves to 7-10 on the season and also concludes its regular season slate. Both games were important as the Crimson looks to compete at the Collegiate Water Polo Association Northern Championships to be held at MIT.

HARVARD 11, FORDHAM 7

In the nightcap, the Harvard offense took center stage, jumping out quickly to a 7-2 lead over the Rams that the Crimson would never relinquish en route to an 11-7 win. Nine different players scored for Harvard, with junior Michael Garcia and sophomore Michael Byrd each tallying a pair.

“We were just motivated to take Fordham out of the game right from the get-go,” Voith said.

“The first game we didn’t shoot that well, and the second game we got as many opportunities, [but] our shots were just going in,” Garcia said.

In the net, senior Robbie Burmeister totaled 17 saves in the contest, while Byrd, freshman David Tune, and freshman Danny Bilotti each had two steals for the Crimson.

HARVARD 5, IONA 2

In the first game, sophomore Chris Ludwick and Tune each netted a pair of goals as the Crimson did just enough on offense to defeat the Gaels. The offense was keyed by Garcia, who tallied four assists.

But the real story of the game was the strong defensive effort. Freshman goalkeeper Jay Connolly tallied eight saves in the match, anchoring a Crimson defense that also had 11 different players record a total of 16 steals, led by Byrd with three.

Connolly’s effort in the cage marked the second-fewest goals allowed for Harvard this season.

“We’ve been pretty consistent with our defense the past few games, we’ve just got to continue that,” Garcia said.

Seeds will come out this week for the Northern Championships, but regardless of the opponent, Harvard will be ready. The Crimson has two weeks off to prepare.

“We’ll be really rested and we’ll be really healthy...and we’re coming off three wins in a row, so we have some momentum. We’ll definitely be ready for that,” Garcia said.

That health and rest will be crucial as Harvard begins to mount a postseason run.

“These two games we were looking at as playoff games in a way because they’re league games that determine our seeding,” Voith said.

A first-round win at the Northern championships guarantees the Crimson a trip to the Eastern Championships in November, a fact not lost on the Crimson players.

“No matter who we’re playing, we’ll be out there giving 115 percent,” Voith said.

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