Captain Arin Keyser and underdog Harvard put up a fight at the Eastern Championships, but a blowout by top-seeded Hartwick and two close losses to Indiana and Maryland sunk the Crimson.
Providence, RI—The eighth-seeded Harvard water polo team finished its season in eighth place out of the eight teams at the Eastern Championships in Providence, R.I., falling to sixth-seeded Maryland, 4-3, in the seventh-place game on Sunday morning.
The previous day, the Crimson had fallen to top-ranked Hartwick, 13-2, and fourth-seeded Indiana, 7-6.
Last year, the Crimson finished fifth at Easterns.
“This is definitely the toughest pool of teams that I have seen at Easterns in all my four years,” said captain and driver Arin Keyser. “Obviously we would have like to have done better, but I think it is a testament to how strong water polo has gotten on the East Coast.”
MARYLAND 4, HARVARD 3
In the seventh-place game, Maryland scored twice in the fourth quarter to come from behind and win.
Harvard had a chance to equalize when it got the ball back with twenty seconds left and called a timeout, but sophomore Vivian Liao’s shot with eight seconds left was high.
“We got a good look, but the ball missed the cage,” Harvard coach Erik Farrar said. “That’s water polo.”
In a low scoring game, the Terrapins appeared poised to take a 2-1 lead into the final frame, but the Crimson scored twice in the final ten seconds of the third quarter to grab a one-goal lead.
Sophomore Lauren Snyder scored her second goal of the game on an outside shot with ten seconds to go.
On the ensuing Maryland possession, captain Sarah Kennifer stole the ball and passed to a streaking Liao, who gently lofted it over the Terrapin goalie as the buzzer sounded.
“I saw my opponent had the ball and wasn’t paying attention,” Kennifer said. “I just grabbed it and when they blew the whistle, I just couldn’t believe it was our ball. I also couldn’t believe that one of my teammates was going up the pool. When she scored, I just jumped up in the pool. It was good momentum for us going into the fourth quarter.”
Maryland would respond, however. The Terrapins tied the score at the 4:33 mark and scored the decisive goal with 1:48 left.
All three of Harvard’s goals came in the final minute of a quarter. Snyder’s first goal came with fifty seconds left in the first half and tied the game at one.
Senior goaltender Lydia Gardner excelled in net for the Crimson, making 10 saves.
INDIANA 7, HARVARD 6
Indiana rallied from an early three-goal deficit and scored with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to beat Harvard in the second round of the Eastern Championships.
The Crimson tried to come back, but was shut out by the Hoosiers in the final quarter.
“Overall, it was a pretty good game,” Farrar said. “But pretty good doesn’t get it done this time of year—not against a team like Indiana. We had our chances, [but] we just didn’t execute.”
After an Indiana ejection with under two minutes left, Harvard called a timeout but failed to get off a good shot. It got the ball back with around forty seconds left but turned the ball over, sealing its fate.
“We wanted to run one of our plays,” Farrar said. “We had some trouble handling the ball and coughed it up. So we kind of squandered our last meaningful chance to score.”
The Crimson scored the first three goals of the game, but the Hoosiers scored the next three, tying it early in the second quarter.
The game went back and forth after that.
Molly Mehaffey scored twice to lead Harvard, while Liao, Keyser, Melissa Mueller, and Kennifer each scored once.
Kennifer fouled out of the game early in the fourth quarter with her third ejection.
“[Kennifer] fouling out hurt us pretty badly,” Farrar said. “She is a big part of our offense.”
The Crimson took a 4-3 lead into halftime, only to see Indiana answer on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Gardner made four saves for Harvard.
HARTWICK 13, HARVARD 2
The fifth time would not be the charm for the Crimson as they fell to the Hawks for the fifth time this year in the opening round of the Eastern Championship.
Hartwick burst out of the gate in the first quarter to take a 5-0 lead at the end of the opening frame.
Harvard was held scoreless until Liao scored early in the second half after the Hawks had already tallied seven goals.
Keyser scored the Crimson’s second goal in the fourth quarter.
The most recent match up between the two teams was last Sunday at Blodgett Pool in the Northerns championship game, a match Hartwick won 10-4.
—Staff writer Ted Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.