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Weary Squad Drops 4 of 5 at Navy

CANDLE 'WICK
Thomas J. Beckford

Co-captain Chris Ludwick, shown here in earlier action, had three goals against Navy’s B squad as Harvard picked up an 11-9 victory. But the Crimson lost its other four matches of the weekend.

It proved to be a particularly difficult weekend for the Harvard men’s water polo team in Annapolis, Md.

Playing five games in three days at the Navy Invitational added wear and tear to a Crimson squad that has already seen more than its fair share of travel this season.

Facing a plethora of top-flight programs from the mid-Atlantic, Harvard dropped four of five, obtaining its only victory against the Navy B squad.

“At this point in the season, no major changes are going to happen,” co-captain Chris Ludwick said. “We just have to polish everything, make those passes that are just a half-second late better, and get ready for the final part of our season.”

Looking ahead, Harvard must recover quickly from its tumultuous weekend when it takes on bitter rival Brown on Thursday at Blodgett Pool. The Thursday night affair is the Crimson’s final regular-season match before commencing play in the Northern Championships.

“Brown is definitely our biggest rival,” Ludwick said. “This game may determine who gets second place in our league.”

JOHNS HOPKINS 9, HARVARD 5

Lethargic play early on once again spelled doom for Harvard, as the Crimson spotted the Blue Jays a 6-2 advantage in the first half.

Respectfully bouncing back from its early deficit to cut the lead down to one, Harvard’s defensive laces came undone in the second half, as Johns Hopkins blanked the Crimson en route to a 9-5 victory.

Freshman Bret Voith led the squad with two goals.

NAVY 7, HARVARD 5

Boosted by the sheer virtue of having already defeated a team with iconic navy blue and gold colors, the Crimson had arguably its best game of the weekend in a losing result against the nationally ranked Midshipmen.

No. 11 Navy flew out of the gates to a 4-0 lead early in the contest, but Harvard responded aggressively, scoring five unanswered goals to claim the lead for the first time late in the third period.

“Navy had a lot of guys so they were just throwing fresh units and speed at us,” sophomore Mitch Denti said. “The game was kind of like a swim meet…but we just had to step up our game and finish our goals.”

Denti, fresh off of receiving valuable experience against the Navy’s B squad, led all Crimson scorers and added three goals to his weekend tally.

Nevertheless, Navy proved true to its national rank, quickly recapturing the lead at the start of the fourth and scoring an insurance goal late in the period to finalize the scorecard.

HARVARD 11, NAVY (B) 9

The lone success of the weekend came during the Saturday nightcap, as the Crimson used its depth and rotated some of its younger faces to defeat the Midshipmen’s B squad.

Ludwick and Voith led all Harvard scorers with a hat trick apiece, and Denti contributed with two goals of his own.

Playing against the Navy’s B squad allowed the Crimson to play around with its rotations and get some valuable pool time for the squad’s younger players.

The youth proved to be up to the task, as Harvard pulled ahead late for the victory after battling for the lead throughout the game.

BUCKNELL 11, HARVARD 6

The Bison proved difficult to contain on Saturday as Harvard fell behind early and, despite multiple comeback attempts, could not overcome the early Bucknell advantage.

After staving off a valiant Crimson offensive response, the Bison capitalized off of defensive breakdowns en route to an unanswered four-goal stretch that effectively iced the game.

“At halftime, we were right with them,” Ludwick said. “And then we just kind of slowed down due to fatigue, and they started scoring on counter-attacks.”

Co-captain Michael Byrd scored three goals and added four steals.

GWU 9, HARVARD 6

The weekend festivities started well enough, as the Crimson jumped out to an early lead at the halfway mark, holding a precarious 4-3 margin.

Led by Ludwick and Tune, who each contributed two goals, Harvard answered George Washington’s aggressive offense with staunch defense and quick counter-play.

But the defense broke down in the second half, as the Colonials tore open the game in the third period by scoring five unanswered goals to recapture the lead.

—Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at cruz@fas.harvard.edu.

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