The coming of fall brings with it winds of change, as the days of summer heat begin to simmer down to an autumn cool.
The Harvard men’s water polo team has apparently not gotten the message to cool down. Beginning regular season play this past weekend in Cambridge at the MIT Invitational, the Crimson got out to a scintillating start, collecting four victories in as many games.
Harvard showcased its depth as veterans and rookies alike contributed to outscoring its opponents 47-16 over the course of the opening weekend.
With the prospect of ECAC and Eastern Championships on the horizon, Harvard will look to emulate this past weekend’s success throughout the year.
“[The team] knows that one good weekend does not a season make,” head coach Erik Farrar said. “They should be excited about the way they played, and morale is pretty high right now, but there is no issue of tempering expectations.”
Senior co-captain Michael Byrd added, “It’s a great start to our season and hopefully it’ll carry over next weekend when we play the defending Northern champions [St. Francis]. We really have a lot of potential this year and I feel we can keep going as the season progresses and keep getting better.”
HARVARD 13, YALE 5
In an appropriate finish to a stellar weekend, Harvard captured its fourth win of the weekend against the visiting Yalies.
Having held leads of 8-1 at the half and 12-4 at the end of three quarters, the Crimson dominated possession throughout the match, once again relying on its defense to spark its deadly counter-attacks.
Sophomore Spencer Livingston and freshman Bret Voith each contributed three goals and freshman Jeff Lee collected three steals to secure the team’s tournament-closing triumph.
“The program is improving year in and year out,” Livingston said. “We have higher goals this season and we’re all pretty excited about our possibilities.”
HARVARD 17, WASHINGTON & JEFFERSON 3
Harvard truly found its offensive muscle on Sunday, blitzing through the Presidents with an explosive scoring effort.
Twelve different players found the net for the Crimson. Senior co-captain Chris Ludwick was one of five players with two goals in his third consecutive multi-goal performance.
The team’s defense also deserved accolades on the evening. Freshman Alex Thompson had a dominant day on the defensive end, racking up four steals and helping shut out the opponents in the first half. Senior netminder Jay Connolly, with seven saves for the game, helped turn the game into a rout.
“It was a really good team effort [and] the youngsters are definitely a big part of our success,” Farrar said. “Although none of these teams signify anything for our standing within the league, it’s very encouraging when you start out like that.”
HARVARD 9, UC SANTA CRUZ 4
Still exhilarated by its season-opening victory on Friday night, Harvard continued its winning ways against nationally ranked Santa Cruz, this time allowing its clinical finishing to guide it to a relatively easy finish.
“We really came out strong and played great defense,” Byrd said. “Our defensive stops fueled our counter-attacks on offense, which allowed our offense to start picking up a good rhythm.”
The Crimson’s held a 5-1 advantage at the end of the first half. Livingston led the way with a hat trick while Ludwick chipped in two clutch goals. The freshmen got in on the act as well—Voith scored a couple and Thompson logged his first career tally.
“The freshmen had a really good weekend in the pool,” Byrd said. “[Thompson] and Jeff [Lee] came off the bench, played solid defense, and created some opportunities on offense. The youth is great this year, and it’s really showing in our games.”
“We have depth that we have not enjoyed in the past and that gives us a lot of options,” Farrar said. “It’s too early to really have a sense of where this is going to go but it’s something new and encouraging.”
HARVARD 8, UC SANTA ROSA 4
Opening the weekend with its first of two West Coast opponents, the Crimson set the tone for the weekend with an electrifying victory over the visiting Bear Cubs.
Led by Ludwick’s four goals and junior Jay Connolly’s staunch play in net, Harvard managed to stave off a feisty comeback attempt by UC Santa Rosa in the third quarter.
Ludwick, who scored once in each quarter, added the game-breaking goal in the third period with the Crimson holding only a slight one-goal advantage. Connolly insured the victory at the other end of the pool with a point-blank save to keep the Bear Cubs stuck at 4.
“That first game was kind of a test to see where we were at,” Byrd said. “We were antsy to get going and our shots were off just a bit. It was mostly our defense, who were also helping out on offense, that turned things around as we started finishing our shots.”
—Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.