With his defense against the wall facing a rolling Engineer offense, sophomore Spencer Livingston came up big with four goals in the opening period of the Crimson’s 11-8 victory over local rival MIT.
MIT came to Blodgett Pool replete with energy, pseudo-instruments, and a crew of boisterous, slightly-inebriated frat boys. The Engineers would leave with their heads held low, their minds as numbingly confused as the MIT defense in the fourth quarter.
In a game not soon to be forgotten, the Harvard faithful saw the men’s water polo team light up the evening with 6 goals in the fourth quarter en route to an 11-8 victory over visiting MIT.
Junior David Tune orchestrated two offensive assaults on the Engineer net, tying the game at eight a piece in the fourth, and adding the final goal of the match to finish the game on a sound note.
“We were just waiting for that spark,” sophomore Egen Atkinson said. “We got it from the energy of the crowd, the fans were definitely the catalyst.”
Playing to a vibrant crowd for the home opener, the Crimson fed off of the crowd’s enthusiasm to lift itself up from a 6-2 hole at the end of the first.
Defensively, Harvard couldn’t find an answer for Engineer Devin Lewis, who scored three goals for MIT in the opening period.
But sophomore Spencer Livingston was able to keep the Crimson in the game by scoring the team’s first four goals through the first half. Unfortunately, the high turnover count (12 in the first half) caused Harvard to play at its end of the pool, leading to limited opportunities for shots.
“It was a turnover fiesta in the first quarter,” head coach Erik Farrar said. “You usually get 40 possessions a game, we had 12 turnovers in the first half alone, do the math.”
The Crimson, however, needed no mathematics to explain its second-half performance. Lewis opened the second half with another goal, but it would prove to be MIT’s last for the night.
Harvard finally found its scoring touch in the second half, scoring seven unanswered goals and stifling the Engineers with a staunch zone defense.
“We changed our defense after the first to a more team oriented, zone type of defense, rather than the man-to-man we played in the first,” Livingston said.
The stellar defensive play in the third translated to an offensive clinic in the fourth, as goals from Tune, Atkinson (who scored the go-ahead goal), senior Brian Kuczynsky, and co-captain Chris Ludwick electrified an already-enthusiastic home crowd.
“It certainly helps when you hear the roar of the crowd,” Farrar said. “Especially when guys are tired late in the game.”
The win over MIT puts the Crimson on a two-game winning streak, and the team improved its record to an impressive 6-1.
Next up on Harvard’s slate is an interesting road set that features the ECAC Championships in Lewisburg, PA and a California trip where perennial powerhouse UC-Berkeley awaits.
The Crimson won’t return to Blodgett Pool until October 13th, but the team hopes that the crowds continue to be as lively as they were in the home opener.
“The fans definitely brought us back into the game,” said Livingston. “And it’s always a lot more fun to play to a packed crowd.”
-Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.