Second-Half Offense Propels Harvard
October 02, 2005
With an 8-1 win over Connecticut College yesterday, the Harvard men’s water polo team showed what it’s capable of doing when the team is playing at its best. After a slow start to the season, the Crimson (4-7) won its second game in a row and is starting to even out its lopsided record. After a close win over Brown on Thursday night, Harvard ended its contest against the Camels with a near shutout, suggesting that the offensive and defensive kinks in the team may be working themselves out. The Crimson offense kicked into gear in the middle of the second quarter. After a scoreless first with many missed shots and poor execution, freshman David Tune jump-started the offense with a goal during a 6-on-5. "In the first quarter it was really close," junior John Voith said. "It was frustrating at first because we were clearly playing better than them, but we were just missing shots and had turnover at first." After a timeout, Harvard followed up with two quick goals before the half ended, taking full control of the game. "We were sitting on the bench just ready to go back in," Voith said. "We were much more energized." The offense was even more prolific during the second half, netting five goals before the clock wound down. "We came out slow, we weren’t shooting that well," junior co-captain Michael Garcia said. "Once we turned it on in the middle of the second, we put it away." Still, Garcia acknowledged that the missed opportunities in the first quarter indicated that, despite the score, it wasn’t the Crimson’s "best shooting day." Tune led the offense with three goals. Sophomore Brian Kuzcynski tallied two, while Garcia and senior Greg Valiant had one apiece. "At the beginning we were going through the motions a little," Garcia said. "But we cracked down and did what we needed to do." Although Harvard’s offense may have had a sluggish start, the defense continued to improve its play with the addition of freshman Jay Connolly in goal. "We were really happy only giving up one goal," Garicia said. "We shut them down the whole time. Jay was playing really well and we were pressing in on defense." Now that the Crimson is well into its season, its newfound success can be partly attributed to the freshmen who have settled into their roles on the team. "The freshmen are stepping up a lot," Voith said. "It’s hard to come into a school as a freshman. Now I feel like everyone is on the same page and continuing to play strongly." Connolly, who proved he can handle high-pressure situations in the team’s win against Brown, now can now add giving up only one goal to his list of accomplishments. "I have big shoes to fill coming in after [injured senior goalie] Robbie [Burmeister]," Connolly said. "He’s amazing. But the defense stepped it up and helped a lot." From his vantage point in goal, Connolly can see the whole pool and is responsible for directing his teammates. While it may have been awkward for the rookie to yell to his teammates at first, Connolly is rapidly gaining a presence in the pool. "It’s weird to be directing these older upperclassmen," Connolly said. "But they are great about it and we are all playing really well together." Harvard heads to California for its next set of games, but the trip will hardly be a nice vacation in the sun. "We feel like if we played how we are capable of we can definitely hang with the teams we are going to play," Garcia said. "It’s going to be a different style of play; one team is ranked in top 20. So it’ll be a good experience." —Staff writer Megha Parekh can be reached at email@example.com.