Crimson Bounces Back from Senior Day Drubbing

EL CAPITAN
Chang Xu

Co-captain Lauren Snyder, playing her final game at Blodgett Pool, scored two goals each in the Crimson’s 19-5 loss to Hartwick and in a convincing 18-4 win over Queens. Five seniors played their final home games, including Cassandra Forsyth, who scored t

It was a weekend of preparation, celebration, and revelation for the Harvard women’s water polo team. Gearing up for its late season championship stretch (and a road date with archrival Brown), the Crimson prepped itself to play two opponents with significantly different levels of talent.

Six seniors were honored on Senior Day as Harvard welcomed No. 14 Hartwick to Blodgett Pool. Despite the festive occasion, the Crimson was blown out for the second time this season against the visiting Hawks, 19-5.

Yesterday, Harvard coach Erik Farrar reached deep into his playbook as he shuffled players into different positions and ran out new defensive schemes en route to an 18-4 victory over Queens College.

HARVARD 18, QUEENS 4

Provided with the opportunity to try new things against its overmatched opponents, the Crimson raced out to a big lead and experimented with formations in preparation for the season ending championships.

“We got the chance to practice a lot of different defensive systems and be a little creative,” co-captain Lauren Snyder said. “It was nice to try some people in different positions towards the end of the game.”

The youngest members of the squad got some invaluable experience on the water as they were featured heavily during the second half. Sophomore Kelly Peeler scored her first goal of the season as freshmen Patricia Smith and Nathasha Whitney also got in the scoring act with a goal apiece.

“It’s always important, especially since we’re graduating such a large senior class, that the [underclassmen] get more playing time,” co-captain Vivian Liao said.

“Playing time is something that you can’t replicate anywhere in practice, no matter how hard you try to simulate game conditions,” Snyder added. “I think it’s great that we’ve had the opportunity to do that.”

Despite the amount of time afforded to the youth of the squad, the veterans on the team still had ample opportunity to shine. Junior Devon MacLaughlin and senior Cassandra Forysth led the way with four and three goals, respectively. Snyder and Liao each dropped two in the net as well.

No. 14 HARTWICK 19, HARVARD 5

It wasn’t quite the senior day that Harvard hoped for on Saturday. Hosting only its second home game (and last of the season) at Blodgett Pool, the Crimson failed to exact revenge against the Hawks.

“They killed us on transition,” Snyder said. “Only two of their goals came from a set offense. We need to do a much better job guarding against that.”

Speed was the decisive factor against Harvard, as Hartwick capitalized time and time again on the Crimson’s costly turnovers. The Hawks also utilized a deep rotation system to tire out their opponents, consistently sending hordes of attackers on the break.

“It’s just a level of awareness that we need to work on,” Snyder said. “Knowing that a team is going to counter, we need to be preparing instead of reacting. It’s just a manner of knowing what’s about to happen because [counter-attacks] are usually pretty predictable.”

Despite the overall disappointing result, the team had a few individual bright spots. MacLaughlin led the team in scoring with a hat trick and Snyder capped her career in Blodgett by drawing two ejections and adding two goals to the Crimson tally.

And of course, the six seniors who were celebrated—Snyder, Liao, Forsyth, Melissa McCreery, Melissa Mueller, and Laura Stoppel —all had plenty to be thankful for considering the crowd support and the festive atmosphere of the day.

“We had an amazing crowd, it was so much fun playing in front of them,” Snyder said. “We’ve had great support from students and staff and, although the score doesn’t indicate it, we definitely weren’t ashamed of our play on Saturday.”

The loss is a temporary setback, but the team feels confident it has enough momentum to carry it through the end of the regular season and into the championships. Time will tell whether that is an accurate assessment.

“I think over the season we’ve come together as a team and we’re playing much better now,” Liao said. “Hopefully that will culminate into success during the championships.”

—Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at cruz2@fas.harvard.edu.

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