Harvard Salvages Seventh at Eastern Championships

After losing to Princeton and John Hopkins, Crimson beats MIT in finale

ABOVE WATER
Vilsa E. Curto

Against Princeton, junior Chris Ludwick brought the Crimson back twice, the second time to tie the score at 8-8 with 23 seconds left.

Seventh place was not the prize the Harvard men’s water polo team was looking to take home from the Eastern Championships hosted by Princeton this weekend.

Entering Saturday’s game as the underdog, fifth-seeded Harvard managed to take an early lead against Princeton in the first half. But the Crimson couldn’t keep up with the Tigers for long, as it yielded its advantage in the second, giving up the game in the final moments, 9-8.

Unable to recover in time for its next game, Harvard lost its edge against John’s Hopkins, falling short of victory, 11-7.

“We just weren’t able to gain enough offensive momentum to win,” senior Eric Byrd said.

The Crimson came back against MIT yesterday morning to make a showing at the tournament and end the season with a win, overpowering the Engineers, 7-3.

“There were some low points, but I think overall it was a big move forward for our team,” Byrd said. “A lot of things we’ve been working on throughout the year came together at the end.”

HARVARD 7, MIT 3

Competing for seventh place in the consolation bracket, Harvard squared off against the Engineers yesterday morning.

With seniors John Voith, Alessandro Lazzarini, Mike Garcia and Byrd taking over the starting lineup for their final game at Harvard, the Crimson pressured hard on offense to secure the lead. Although MIT netted the first goal, Harvard quickly returned with four of its own, putting the Engineers away early.

Keeping up the pressure on the other end of the pool, the defense shut down MIT’s momentum time after time, allowing the Crimson a 7-3 victory. Left open by his defender, Garcia pounded in the final goal of the game off a perimeter pass from Voith.

“The game was already won, but I thought it was a nice way to end Mike’s career,” Voith said. “I would’ve like to win more games, but at the same time, to finish with a win against MIT meant a lot for the seniors as well as for the younger members of the team, who have now moved forward… with a positive momentum into next season.”

JOHN HOPKINS 11, HARVARD 7

Worn down after the loss against Princeton earlier in the day, Harvard failed to keep up the intensity against John Hopkins.

“We had poured our heart and soul into that game [against Princeton], and it was kind of a high point,” Byrd said. “[But] we weren’t able to stay at that level for the whole day. We just came out kind of flat.”

Numerous turnovers by the offense gave the Blue Jays the advantage early in the game, as they mounted a few solid goals on the counterattack.

The Crimson kept the score close through the first half and put away three quick goals in a second-half offensive surge.

But John Hopkins returned with a few of its own, pulling ahead too far for Harvard to overcome.

“In the third and fourth, they went up by maybe three or four, and we were trying to play catch-up,” Garcia said.

PRINCETON 9, HARVARD 8

A last-second shot ended the Crimson’s hopes for claiming victory over Princeton. With the score tied at eight, the Tigers nailed a lob shot from the two-spot to slip ahead in the last nine seconds of the game.

“They were actually seeded higher us, so they were favored to win,” Byrd said. “We knew we were the underdog, so we just came out really intense.”

The Crimson started off strong, racking up a 3-0 lead over Princeton by the second quarter, with freshman Spencer Livingston netting Harvard’s third unanswered goal.

But the Tigers quickly clawed their way back in the game, slamming in three goals in the last four minutes to narrow Harvard’s lead, 4-3.

The game went back and forth throughout the second half, as the Crimson evened it up every time Princeton pulled ahead. But the Tigers kept pressing until they gained the advantage, coming out on top, 9-8.

“We just fell short at the end,” Byrd said. “It was one of the best games we’ve ever played, and a bunch of fans came up afterwards and said that was one of the best games I’ve ever seen Harvard play. It was a positive note for us.”

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