The short-lived lead was not the first the sixth-seeded Crimson would squander in a weekend. After playing competitively with Princeton for two periods, Harvard lost its offensive gusto, losing 9-5.
The Crimson dropped its next match to Slippery Rock 10-9 in double overtime after leading for the entire regulation period. Fighting for seventh place, the Crimson beat Iona to Sunday morning, giving the promising team a disappointing seventh place finish.
HARVARD 9, IONA 5
Harvard’s first win at Easterns came in its final game of the season against Iona.
The Crimson found itself treading familiar water in the early Sunday morning game, as it had defeated, the Gaels twice in the teams’ last two meetings.
The Crimson managed to get itself a four-goal lead, one which it held on to throughout the game.
“We played as a team and everyone did their part,” junior co-captain Michael Garcia said.
Senior goaltender Robbie Burmeister anchored the defense, tallying eight saves in the final game of his collegiate career.
Garcia had another prolific offensive performance, tallying three goals. Junior Alessandro Lazzarini scored two, while seniors Greg Valiant and Andrei Boros, junior John Voith, and Ludwick added one apiece.
The win was an all-around team effort, saving the Crimson from ending Easterns in last place.
SLIPPERY ROCK 10, HARVARD 9 (2OT)
Though the Crimson sported a three-goal lead during its match against Slippery Rock, the team could not hold on to its lead and a chance to play for fifth place.
Harvard jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the first period off three goals scored by Lazzarini. The Crimson tacked on one more before the period was up, giving them a significant advantage over the Rock.
During the second half of the game, Slippery Rock outscored the Crimson 5-2, tallying enough goals to push the game into overtime.
“When Sandro got his three goals we were driving a lot; that’s what got him open,” Garcia said. “We stopped doing that and our offense was static.”
Harvard yielded a goal in the first overtime, but finally narrowed the score 10-8 in the second period of overtime play.
With under one minute remaining, junior co-captain Michael Garcia scored, bringing the Crimson within one of victory.
However, though Harvard had a ripe scoring opportunity with a 6-on-5 advantage at the end of the game, its final shot was saved by Rock goalie Glenn Reepmeyer, who denied the Crimson 10 times during the game.
“After starting off so quickly we got kind of stagnant on offense and had some breakdowns defensively,” Burmeister said.
Sophomore Michael Byrd also had three goals for Harvard, Garcia netted two, and Voith had one.
“Little Byrd has proven himself to be a big player in the water, able to shut down strong offensive players on defense,” junior Eric Byrd said. “He combines solid ball handling on offense, and he’s a great asset to the team.”
Burmeister played the first Easterns of his Harvard career, notching a critical save with just 11 seconds left in the game to keep the score tied and force overtime.
“It was a great experience, a really good way to end my last year,” Burmeister said. “The best part is the high level of competition.”
PRINCETON 9, HARVARD 5
Though the score makes it seem as though the Tigers controlled the opening contest for the Crimson, the Ivy battle was much closer because of the strong defense from the Harvard players.
“For the most part we did a great job stopping their counter,” Burmeister said. “Their top scorer, who is their fastest player, only scored a goal.”
Burmeister, who totaled seven saves, was helped in goal by Garcia’s blocks and steals from the quick Tiger players. Byrd and Voith also played excellent defense in front of the cage.
“Robbie played really well. He was really psyched in the first game,” Garcia said. “He put us in contention to win and did his part.”
The Crimson kept the deficit down to 5-3 at the half.
During the third quarter, however, Princeton took the game out of reach, scoring three goals, two of which came on 6-on-5s.
Ludwick and Garcia each tallied two goals, while Byrd took advantage of a Crimson 6-on-5 to tally one.
While facing one of the faster teams at the tournament, Harvard held its own for much of the game, winning two of the four starting sprints.
The young team is poised to return even stronger next year, now that its players are more experienced.
“We’ll have a lot of players back,” Garcia said. “Finishing our season with a win was a good ending.”
Burmeister, who is finished with water polo for now, is satisfied with the way his final year turned out.
“I am happy how the season went,” Burmeister said. “We had some ups and downs, but at the end of the season, we really started playing well together, and I think we ended on a good note that will carry over well to next year.”
—Staff writer Megha Parekh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.